How to Lead When Neither Rewards Nor Consequences Motivate

August 23, 2017 | 1,544 views

How to Lead When Neither Rewards Nor Consequences Motivate

How to Lead When Neither Rewards Nor Consequences Motivate

There are two standard ways of motivating employees:


1. Offer incentives, or rewards, for hard work;

2. Design consequences for those who don’t meet their goals.


It’s the classic carrot and stick scenario, but is it effective? Not always.


Many employees shrug their shoulders at rewards these days thinking that they’re more expected rather than an honor to receive. And many employees get demotivated by consequences, wondering why they should even try if they won’t get any kind of recognition or appreciation for their hard work.


As a leader, it’s your job to come up with new ways to motivate your team and keep them moving toward your overall goals. Here are a few fresh ways to inspire your employees so they work harder without requiring you to hand out hefty rewards or risk losing potentially strong players with unnecessary consequences.


Involve Your Team in Your Thought Process

There’s a big difference between a leader and a dictator. A dictator issues orders without giving rhyme or reason. A leader loops in other people to the concept and keeps them informed from start to finish.


To lead your team to success, you need to get each person invested early on in the outcome. This requires you to demonstrate what outcome you’re trying to achieve, why it’s important and how you came up with the concept. The better you can clarify purpose, the more likely your team will be to jump on board and give you their all.


Make the Work Relevant

No matter how many rewards you give or how many consequences you dole out, if the work isn’t relevant to a person’s skillset and passion, she won’t want to do it. To keep every job relevant, get to know your team. Get to know what they love both at work and outside of the office. Then, compare the tasks and projects you need to accomplish with those interests. The closer you can align the work to a person’s individual passion, the better results you’ll get.


Anticipate Objections to Change

Change is hard. In life, in work, in relationships, any time a shakeup occurs, it takes some getting used to. It also takes a concerted effort to understand why the change is taking place. Many times, while someone is in the midst of a transition, big or small, she’s considering the pros and cons. What makes the change worthwhile? Why should the old habits live on?


During any type of change in your workplace, consider the employee’s objections to why it’s taking place. Then, combat them in your presentation up front. The earlier you can address objections, the better off your team’s mindset will be, keeping all of the team players moving in the right direction – forward.


Show Appreciation

We’re big advocates of showing appreciation to your employees around here. That’s because it’s so instrumental in keeping your team motivated and happy with their jobs. Appreciation is different than rewards because it’s a genuine sign of gratitude rather than a bonus given when a certain level of performance is achieved. One is human while the other feels like the employee is leveling up in a video game.


If an employee doesn’t feel like her work matters, she won’t have the drive to keep producing. On the other hand, if she knows her work is helping toward the greater good and appreciated by upper management, she’ll want to continue creating quality results.


You can say thank you to your employees in many ways. Even something as simple as giving the employee more flexibility in her schedule because you know she will get her work finished is enough to serve as motivation. The point is to make it a regular habit to let your team know you recognize and are thankful for their hard work.


Keep ‘Em Moving

There are many ways to keep your team moving in the right direction beyond offering a reward or dishing out a harsh consequence. Get creative and you’ll see the benefit with more output and bigger results from your team.


Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007 and again in 2010, 2013 and 2014.

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