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Sunday, 21 October 2018

Want to Reward a Team Member? Try the ABCD Route!

Some years ago I was in the reception area of one of the members of my Vistage CEO peer group passing the time by reading what had been posted on the wall for all to see.

Most of it was local interest apart from one small range of certificates that took my eye.

Each one was headed ABCD and praised the mighty efforts of a member of staff who had apparently gone out of their way to satisfy the customer and thereby the business.

Intrigued, I questioned the member who told me that the idea had been started by a major supermarket customer who had appointed one of his team to their ABCD award scheme.

It means:

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty 

and is restricted to those who had genuinely gone out of their way to achieve a completely satisfactory outcome of a task.

It did show, apart from being a very good idea and as far as I could see an excellent motivator, that some supermarkets do have a heart as well as deep pockets.

My member had taken the idea on and had started to use it to publicise and compliment those who had taken responsibility, had made decisions and had gone ahead and done something admirable to satisfy a customer.

He mentioned that on one occasion a member of the administrative team had, on her own initiative, stayed very late to ensure that a very urgent problem was solved for a customer.

He, accordingly, had sent her a hand written card, a bunch of flowers and a voucher for two at a restaurant in order to say “Thank you”.

Six months later another member of the team was at the recipient’s house and noticed that the “thank you” card was still on the mantelpiece.

We underestimate the power of praise and thanks for a job well done.  Yes, I know that people are paid to do a job and as such, should perhaps put themselves out occasionally when the situation demands. However, this shows that a little courtesy will never go amiss.

I make no apology for mentioning yet again the work of psychologist, Frederick Herzberg, of the University of Utah (19230-2000) who in essence postulated the distinction between positive and negative motivational factors in the workplace.  

Examples of the negative factors are salary, workplace conditions, relationships with line managers and so on, while the positive factors are:

  • Achievement
  • Recognition
  • Work itself
  • Responsibility
  • Advancement
  • Reward

These are factors that are the responsibility of the leadership and if that is the case, how much time and effort do we put into making sure that they are all available for our top people?

Please notice that reward is listed somewhat as an afterthought.  It does not imply that financial reward is a positive motivational factor, anything but.  It does however show that the right form of reward in terms of praise and recognition can have a dramatic effect.

In the end we want happy, satisfied, committed and enthusiastic people in the business.

The culture therefore must be angled towards the needs of the people who work in the business and frequently know more than the leadership knows about what actually goes on.

In the Nissan car factory there is an enormous board with the names, photographs and learning achievements of people on the assembly line so that anyone, internal or external, can see the quality of the people in the plant.

If we recognise exceptional effort or service and make sure that everyone knows about it, then the culture will change.  People will take on responsibilities, will make decisions and take action as they think right and will as a consequence gain far more than just having a job. It used to be called job satisfaction.

There is a vast shortage of good people in industry and commerce right now in the UK and anything that we can do to promote and/or recruit great people can only be for the good.  Moreover that sort of culture means retention of good people is strengthened and that can only be to our advantage.


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