by Dr. Burl Randolph, Jr., DM

How should I reward my people, through rewards or recognition?  

I answered this question and created this blog well before the pandemic began. I have however, updated many of my recommendations based on Real World events. Of course, an updated photo would incorporate Social Distancing Guidelines (SDG) and Personal Protective Measures (PPM).

Keeping people motivated is one of the greatest challenges for a leader. During this COVID-19 pandemic, that challenge has magnified with Stay-At-Home orders, Social Distancing Guidelines (SDG), Teleworking.  So, this age old question remains a great one.  My answer to rewards vs recognition is: Why not both?  I will provide a few suggestions:

1. Read Drive by Daniel Pink.  The essence of the book is figuring out what drives people and there are empirical findings that money is not always the best motivator for everyone. What is motivating people right now (May 2020) during the COVID crisis?

2. Develop a Recognition and Rewards system.  I did this in two manners: a. I took the existing program and b. I asked my coworkers how they appreciated being recognized and rewarded. How is your company recognizing and rewarding during these extraordinary times?

3. Ask your coworkers individually how they might like to be recognized.  This can be done through a survey, one-on-one, in a group, suggestion box, etc.  I recommend this because not everyone likes public recognition, nor being asked about their preferences in a public manner.  How will you receive the one-on-one feedback for your recognition program?

4.  Publish the Rewards Program.  For monetary incentives, time-off awards, and tangible items, you need something published so that it can be fair and equitable. During this Teleworking perioda rewards program may be more important than ever, but execution may be challenging.  How will you publish your Rewards Program?

5. Execute a Recognition Program.  I call this the Intangibles that sometimes work better than the tangibles.  A few things I did once I had a small staff:

    a.  Daily Personal Conversation.  My crew cherished these because I would take the time to speak with them on a personal and professional level, daily. This can be over the phone or virtual for those Teleworking. 

    b.  Having a No-Reason Potluck.  I like to eat, so I recommended a Potluck for No-Reason.  It was a big hit. Would you consider a Virtual Potluck? It might be interesting!

    c. Thank You’s.  Thank You is highly underrated.  That is all some people want.  A card, hand written note, or well written email can go a long way.

    d. Personal Email.  This could be a Thank You; Great Job; Keep up the good work, etc.  

    e. Personal Note.  We called them Desk Notes in the military.  Both military and civilians would keep them, and some even framed them.  It is your personal touch.

Those I groomed to be CEOs used these techniques in their organizations, and verified that they worked!  While Teleworking or in remote environments, recognizing and rewarding people may be critical to organizational culture, leader development, and employee morale.

How will you Reward and Recognize during this COVID-19 Crisis?


Dr. Burl Randolph, Jr., DM is helping businesses identify reward and recognize daily at MyWingman, LLC, a Business Leadership and Management Consulting company in Davenport, Iowa. MyWingman, LLC operates digitally during this pandemic, to continue Helping Leaders Design Legacies That Last (c) through leader coaching, organizational planning, corporate training, legacy expression, and government contracting. 

Learn more about Dr. Randolph from his new Best Selling book, Inspired, Not Retired: Leadership Lessons from Father to Son on sale at Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles.com and Books A Million.com.

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