The Timing of Rewards

Identify the right time to give rewards to your team members.

One message that might come across through this section is that rewards are only to be given at formal, review-centric times; nothing could really be further from the truth. While some rewards will need to follow the company’s HR restrictions on award times (specifically, title change, salary adjustments, and/or promotions), others are often something that can be done at any time. In fact, it’s often useful to have many of these in your pocket ahead of time, so that when an opportunity arises you can act on the impulse without hesitation or delay. (Remember, as we discuss in the “Feedback” section, it’s vastly better to give positive feedback to the things the employee does well, and the closer the reward can be to the action that prompted it, the more closely the employee will associate the two.)

Most of all, remember that rewards will have a different impact on the different individuals to whom they are awarded—and that in some cases, an award will have a different impact even when given to the same person months apart. Offering your team member the opportunity to duck out of work early for the day so they can watch their kid in the school play won’t have the same impact a few months later when it’s just soccer practice. (It may still be the nice thing to do—but it won’t necessarily feel like a “reward.”)

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