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Valuing Your Employee Stakeholders

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Rewarding good performance helps keep employee stakeholders motivated during projects. But there's a difference between the methods many businesses use to motivate people and what actually works.

Simple financial incentives and other "carrot and stick" methods have been shown to be largely ineffective motivators, especially for employees on your team. And these incentives can be totally inappropriate if applied to stakeholders outside of the organization.

Instead, rewards should address our deep need for:

Autonomy: The desire to direct our own lives
Mastery: The urge to get better at our work and be successful
Purpose: The yearning to work in the service of something larger than ourselves

Rewards don't need to be huge, but they should be visible to the entire team. They can be as simple as acknowledging a job well done in a daily stand-up meeting. Or it can be more substantive, such as granting greater autonomy or responsibility.

As a leader, you must allow employee stakeholders the freedom to define their work within appropriate boundaries. Provide opportunities for them to develop new skills and link your team's work to the objectives of the organization or a larger social benefit, where possible.

So where can you start?

Rather than instructing the team member receiving the award on what to do and when to finish, offer a little bounded autonomy by asking how he or she can best achieve the objective of the task and how quickly it can be accomplished.

If the stakeholder is a senior manager, create a sense of purpose by linking your request for help to the manager's goals for the organization. You may be surprised at the positive reaction.

What do you think? Can autonomy, mastery and purpose be motivational rewards?

 

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4 Comments

I am in complete agreement. All three have worked for myself and for our team.

Autonomy: The desire to direct our own lives - Work life balance by flexible working time while being focused on the tight deliverables.

Mastery: The urge to get better at our work and be successful - The desire to excel and get support from managers worked best.

Purpose: The yearning to work in the service of something larger than ourselves - Taking extra responsibility also worked, which gives sense of achievement beyond a person's regular schedule.

Reward (or for that matter punishment) is for the subject. What is extremely valuable to one person may be worthless for the other.

While it is true that many of us look for autonomy, mastery and purpose in what we do, we should also be open to other 'currencies'. For example 'relationship', 'clarity of objectives and expectations', 'proximity to key positions' etc. Hence, it would help to identify what is of value to this specific person and reward him/her in that currency.

My observation is that while there are few 'official' reward-categories identified by organizations, effective project managers find ways to fill the gap. One of my mentors said, "It is a subjective world. The subject rules the object. Change the subject and the world if changed".

Now, the next question is how does one change the subject? When we work on projects, does it allow enough time to bring about this change? Topic for anther blog!

Hi, Lynda,

AMP is a great concept and, in my humble opinion, can work well in an environment that is ready for it. If you're in an organization overwhelmed by command and control, people might see the attempt to adopt an AMP mindset as just another trick.

In Daniel Pink's "drive" he talks about AMP extensively. He also offers a cautionary tale of the dangers in taking away an "incentive" once it's been instituted. If financial rewards are, or have been, the only means of reward taking them away will likely lead to a decline in performance. True, they don't yield any significant, sustained performance improvement - but just try and take them away once they're instituted. You can't necessarily motivate people with financial rewards, but you sure can demotivate them with the absence of rewards.

The best remedy is collective reward, I think. Don't look to motivate individuals, look to motivate teams and have them share in each others success or failure. The trick will be making sure the slugs don't ride on the back of the super stars.

My thought? Set up team-based recognition systems from the top down, and a peer-to-peer recognition system as well. A pat on the back from the boss is nice, but can be seen as empty pandering. A pat on the back from one's team mates can be much, much more rewarding.

My experience tells me that autonomy works, but that three conditions must be met.

1. The deliverable must be clearly defined.
2. The absolute "no-no's" must be understood AND agreed upon.
3. The autonomy must speak to the employee's personal value system on top of the organizations.

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