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Rewarding & Recognizing – It’s a Leaders Job!

Author: Bob Perkins, AA-ISP
Posted: January 15th, 2014

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Many years ago, I was discussing with a team manager what appeared to be lack of general motivation of his inside sales reps.  Their numbers were struggling and they didn’t seem to be very engaged.  He immediately said to me, “I am not responsible for motivating a sales rep, they have to motivate themselves”.  Well, I think we would all agree with him that we want inside sales reps who are highly self-motivated…but then again, who wouldn’t?  Contrary to what this manager told me, I believe that building a culture and practice of recognizing, and thereby motivating, individuals is one of the most important jobs a manager can have.  A highly engaged and motivated team is critical if you want to establish a high-performing team.  Although building this type of culture goes well beyond recognizing and rewarding people, I would like to share with you a few simple tips that have helped me implement some formal programs over the years.

You would be surprised how many inside sales organizations don’t really have a formal plan behind its rewards & recognition program.  Oh they may do some spiffs and reward their top producers, but the leader never took time to sit down and consider writing up a specific plan and program.  Here are some tips to do just that:

  • Begin with a brainstorming session and include a sampling of reps and managers in the mix.
  • Review the key goals of the team and tie them to corporate goals.
  • Consider the timing: How often should you recognize…of course daily!, but meaning in a formal sense.  Should it be weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc?  Many managers tie it to monthly team meetings which is a best practice.
  • Consider what you are recognizing, ie: rep of the month, top producers, key contributor, un-sung hero, most improved, and so on.  This is where having your managers and reps work together to come up with the categories will pay off.
  • Plan out the actual rewards such as cash, time off, gifts, plaques, etc., and remember it’s not always a tangible thing that works best.
  • Don’t forget to plan out how you will actually do the recognition…ie: in front of peers, at a meeting, e-mails to superiors, etc.

A huge gap I also see is where recognition comes and goes depending on the quarter or year.  Whatever you do, don’t skip a week or month, or whenever you plan to have your recognition meeting.  Reps come to expect it and will be let down if it doesn’t happen.

Use different methods to survey the team and individuals to see what would motivate them the most.   Remember too that recognition and motivation does not always have to be in the form of a gift or something tangible.  Often, the greatest motivator can be when a person feels that they have played a key role in helping the organization achieve some small but significant success.   Finally, if you are going to reward with something tangible like a spiff, cash, or a gift, DO NOT BE CHEAP…it really send the wrong message that the employee is not really valued and worth that much.  It would be better to not give any gift at all, and to find an alternative way to recognize than to give something cheap.

Ok, leaders….  How is your Rewards and Recognition program?  If it needs some work, make it a priority in the New Year… remember it’s YOUR job!