Thanks For The Effort

By Malcolm Fleschner

When it comes to offering rewards, do you believe your salespeople deserve an A for effort, or do you only give out grades for bottom-line results? In Motivational Management (AMACOM, 2003), author Alexander Hiam argues that two of the manager’s primary jobs are to encourage healthy attitudes so that people are motivated to do their best and to assign people the right work so that attitude and motivation drive real results. When managers only reward organizational performance and end results, he says, employees often wind up feeling disconnected between their day-to-day work and long-term corporate results – and motivation lags.

With this in mind, Hiam offers three specific reasons for rewarding effort, either in place of or in addition to overall performance.

1. It’s individual.
Managers ultimately are responsible for outlining corporate strategy and producing on the bottom line, yet regular employees frequently are blamed when results fail to meet expectations. By offering rewards attached to effort, managers communicate that they understand what it takes for the organization to be successful and can distill it down to what is needed from each individual.

2. It’s direct feedback.
Studies in the education field show that students who are praised for their efforts and not just for results tend to try harder and improve their future performance. By recognizing effort, managers help affect employees’ attitudes about the work they do. The result is a greater impact than you get from merely recognizing results.

3. It’s intrinsic.
Exclusively rewarding results is an extrinsic form of motivation, like the proverbial dangled carrot. People are urged to reach a destination without consideration for how they get there. By contrast, when you use recognition and rewards to encourage employees who are striving toward challenging goals, you use intrinsic motivation, which bolsters spirits and maintains a positive, considerate managerial atmosphere. People are encouraged from within to do all the right things on the way to realizing those goals.