When I do leadership/management workshops, the first topic is always motivation. While I am a big believer that motivation must come from within, managers can impact performance, in the short term, by effectively using rewards.
Years of research tells us that cash and other extrinsic rewards can be effective motivators for tasks where individual effort leads to individual results. However, the bigger the distance between effort and results, the less value these incentives have. Oh, and they also lose their effect over time.
The wise manager knows that recognition, praise, and other behaviors that lead to intrinsic rewards are much more powerful. This article provides a good synopsis on how to use a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.
While there tends to be a strong focus on rewards, something that gets overlooked is how to select managers who already have this insight. Sure, most can learn it. But, I would think that there are traits that predict how well a person rewards employees. Three of these would include:
- A person with a high level of agreeableness is usually warm, friendly, and tactful. They generally have an optimistic view of human nature and get along well with others. People high on this trait are likely to want to make others feel engaged in their work.
- Generous people are the ones who give more than is expected of them. Giving a reward to another person is an act that provides praise or a reward to another person when it could be kept to oneself.
- View of Employees. Managers who have a “your paycheck is your reward” mentality are not likely to give out a lot of praise. Those who recognize people as individuals, and learn what their needs are, will be much more likely to provide meaningful motivators.
By making motivational skills part of the valid selection process, we are more likely to hire managers who will seek out opportunities to reward results. Appropriate use of such techniques will lead to more engaged and productive employees. They are less likely to turnover, which is critical in our current low unemployment economy.