Interesting conversations this week around reward and recognition. Often enough it is simply a topic on the HR agenda for the year. How many people did we give an award to? How many of those vouchers did we give out? Did we praise 10 people per month or was it 15? Tick the box and move on to the next calendar year.
But more often than otherwise, recognition for a job well done does not occur and for those who need extrinsic rewards, it can be a hard slog to simply do your job well.
I do wonder at the bonuses handed out in the white collar world. Do we contribute to our fellow man? Do we rescue lost children or make the world a better place? Not exactly. Perhaps, in an abstract way – we keep the economy turning. No, we don’t really produce anything. We show up, we do what we are told, we go home. Someone somewhere makes a crap load of money from the whole process… and then HR turn around and hand out bonuses or rewards or recognition. Whatever keeps us going.
Every day of his career, my dad solved electrical problems in people’s houses. A practical trade. A useful occupation. It was very very very very rare for someone to thank him beyond his bill and often those bills were still paid begrudgingly by everyone from white collar workers to white haired retirees and other tradies. Strangely, Dad still liked his job and strived to do the very best job he could.
There are studies that show that the more someone is rewarded extrinsically, the less likely they are to experience intrinsic reward from performing a task.
The last time I felt the thrill of my own internal reward system was on this day last year when I finished my first ever #nanowrimo. No money, no external acknowledgements, not even a promised read through from anyone dear to me.. just the knowledge that I had created out of nothing, a 50,000 word story that had never existed before.
I couldn’t do it this year, for a number of reasons, but the power of that reward has stayed with me.
Take control of something, master it if you can, appreciate what you are capable of —- without the acknowledgement of others. Who knows? You may just find that you get more out of the task, than those that really just want to be a tick on the HR calendar.