Rewarding the Bare Minimum

Joshua A. Luna
June 4, 2021
Rewarding the Bare Minimum
Markus Winkler via Unsplash

Reasonable Expectations

This one has been bothering me for a while. At a leadership level, there are set expectations on what you must deliver. Sure, you might have a say in how your role plays into the larger context, but often you have to work within structures that already exist.

One of those “expectations” that generally don’t change is the responsibility of people management. If you have employees reporting to you, the company and your employees will reasonably expect you to manage your employee’s tenure at the company.

This can encompass addressing career growth conversations, job concerns, internal conflicts, etc.

Let's Make This Fun

I recently spoke with a leader whose organization is looking to gamify actions taken by their people managers by rewarding those who set department goals, check-in with employees, or even complete performance reviews - tasks they must do that affect employees.

The idea was to give “points” for these people management tasks that can be used to purchase company swag.

You might be thinking, why would they need to incentivize these elements of people management?

Well, a large amount of these people managers weren’t doing them in the first place.

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

If you, as an organization, have to bribe managers with gifts or praise for basic tasks that every leader should want to do for their employees, you probably have the wrong people in place.

No level of reward or bribe can change the fact that there are managers who are failing to perform an aspect of their role. You don't fix poor performance by dangling rewards - you fix it by delivering feedback, coaching through the situation, and assessing improvement.

At best, this scenario is prolonging the inevitable attrition that will follow for both managers and their employees.

Start setting firm expectations and stick to them. It's completely okay to do so - it doesn't make you a bad leader. And if you have to let some people go - so be it. Nothing causes more damage (or costs more money) than maintaining an environment where employees lack the support they need to succeed.

How can we build high-performing teams when we're afraid to set the bar above the lowest point?