How can we Reward One and Keep Motivating Others
Your team works hard. They know the job, and they work as a team to accomplish goals. At least, that's how it’s supposed to work. But what happens when you have one employee that stands out? How can you recognize and reward that one person without demotivating the rest of your team in the process? It can be tricky, and you can't play favorites, so what is the smart leader to do?
Nothing your team does happens in a vacuum. There could very well be more to the story of success than just one person. Be candid and get to the bottom of what worked and maybe, even, what didn't work. Start with private praise of your high performing employee and find out how to replicate the good stuff and take the lessons, too.
Side note: as you ask questions, prepare yourself for answers of all kinds. If a member of your team has found a way to innovate, you might have to consider changes to your existing rules and processes. While change is positive, it can be a daunting process.
Resist Piling More Work on your Star Employee
It can seem like an efficient and high performing employee can handle more than their share of the work, but you have to resist here. Before you think about what ELSE this person could be doing, talk about what else this person might WANT to take on. Assigning more work or responsibility without a reward might seem like more of a punishment. Similarly, resist the urge to have your star pupil become a trainer or teacher. It falls to you to learn the hows and whys this employee succeeded and then distill those relevant lessons to the rest of the team.
Ask the Whole Team
Talk to your whole team about it. Again, as nothing happens in a vacuum, your group may have input you need to hear. You might learn more about the processes and procedures that work (or don't work). This conversation will give you insight into how your team works and will also serve to build trust. Ask and listen when they answer. Also, your team will likely want to celebrate their colleagues' accomplishments.
Recognize the Employee, Reward the Team
Most people want to share their successes and tell the whole team – even the entire company – about these successes. This kind of recognition and celebration is vital to a healthy workplace culture. While nothing is barring you from rewarding a singular employee, that might be something best done in private. You never want to give the impression of playing favorites, so think of a way to get your star employee something special and then something for the team, too. When a team member stands out, we should think carefully about meaningful and genuine rewards. Take time to investigate the process, recognize the hard work, and keep the whole team in mind. Remember: when one of us wins, we all win.
And don't forget...
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