Stop Recognizing People for Doing their Job

“Is she out of her mind?”,  you ask yourself. Nope! And neither is Stephen Shapiro who wrote a great bit on How To Motivate Innovators.

Stop recognizing people for doing their job. When you hire someone to work for you, it should be expected that they are competent.  When you recognize people for doing what they are hired to do, it reinforces a “culture” where the status quo is good enough.

Instead, recognize (and reward) people for going beyond their job; for doing things that are unexpected.

If you wish to develop a culture of innovation within your organization, you are going to have to reward what I call productive disruption. Productive disruption, in my mind, is an attempt at doing things differently while taking into account risks and with the mindset of wanting to improve upon something. It isn’t always successful, but it always generates discourse and reflection.

If you want to encourage open innovation or cross-business unit collaboration, then recognize people for that.  If you want employees to take risks, make a big deal out of individuals who do that.  If you want to let people know that failure is ok – when done the right way – then promote situations where something didn’t work as planned yet powerful lessons were learned and risk was mitigated risk.

Define what your organization values and then reward on that.

Couldn’t agree more. The idea that errors aren’t punished but rather become case studies is refreshing. I have been fortunate to work in such environments where I can learn from my errors and in looking for solutions to overcome them, learn and innovate.

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Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today