Learn the six things you can do to incentivize people that cost nothing but time.
- Do rewards motivate people? According to author Alfie Kohn, absolutely. They motivate people to get the rewards. But let's make sure we're on the same page when it comes to rewards and incentives. A reward is something that is given to an employee, whereas an incentive is something that motivates an individual to behave in a certain way or to perform an action. Let's focus on incentives. They are two categories of incentives, extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic incentives motivate people for performance and productivity in order to earn a reward or avoid punishment. For example, hitting your numbers to earn a bonus, logging activity to receive special recognition, working more hours to get extra paid time off, or getting your expense report in on time so you don't get a friendly reminder from your boss. What's important about extrinsic incentives is that people are doing something not because they necessarily want to, but because they'll get something or avoid something uncomfortable.
Intrinsic incentives come from activity that is personally fulfilling and rewarding. Examples include going the extra mile for a colleague or customer, proposing an idea to improve an offering or increase efficiency, and being conscientious about team member relationships. When it comes to creating the type of engagement where people are intrinsically motivated, there are six things you can do at the organizational level to install processes that support your core values to create a climate of consideration.
Make sure every week everyone at every level receives recognition or praise for doing good work. This can come from peers, superiors, and subordinates. We all need to feel appreciated. At least twice a year, ensure everyone is able to discuss their progress regarding business results and professional growth. This should be a two-way discussion where the person can see their impact in a way that builds confidence in their future abilities and responsibilities.
I am assuming people are your most important asset, so make sure everyone has an opportunity to learn and grow every year. This could be an investment in formal courses, or it could be role related by providing additional responsibility for people to stretch themselves. You can create autonomy for people by helping them find meaning and letting them make choices. That is their decisions. Most importantly, make sure you know, not assume, that each person and every team knows what's expected and what happens if expectations are exceeded.
Your work environment should encourage development and depending on your structure, ensure every employee has someone who is encouraging their development and sense of competence. Lastly, we are social animals, and it's important we feel people care about us as humans, not just cogs in the machine. What's interesting about these six ideas is they cost nothing but time. And how many of us are spending enough time on what really matters, the engagement and development of our people?