|From The MRA Newsletter|
|Use MRA to Structure Rewards
By John Loven, MRA
|In times when earnings and growth are stagnant, or even contracting for a period,
how do you make the work day a rewarding experience for your staff? MRA profiles
give you a way to maximize the positive impact of
motivational and rewards programs.
In boom times, with rapid growth and growing earnings, it is easy to equate
workplace rewards with bigger paychecks and elevated titles. In times like these,
when earnings and growth are stagnant, or even contracting for a period, how do you
make the work day a rewarding experience for your staff?
Motivation is still mission critical.
But rewards are no longer focused on attracting
scads of new talent. Rather the goal is to keep the best and most productive people
with you through the down turn when you can't just wave bonus checks or point to corner
offices. Make no mistake about it: aggressive organizations which understand how to
tailor rewards to personalities are poaching and cherry-picking as they staff-up
for the recovery to come. Don't let your best performers wander off to join a competitor.
You can fight back: MRA profiles give you a way to maximize the positive impact of
motivational and rewards programs.
The "Strengths and Restraints" section of an MRA report is
probably the most often read when a manager thinks about an employee. But just a little farther down
the page is a list of rewards. That's where the key to motivation lives. Let's see how it works.
Envision a grid of four quadrants. Label the columns "Tangible" and "Intangible." Tangible and intangible
rewards are very valuable, but you can put the tangible ones in your pocket or your piggybank. The
intangible ones stay in your memory. Then label the rows "Public" and "Private." This grid represents
a simple and practical analysis of reward structures. Standing someone up at the luncheon for a
round of applause is intangible and public. Getting a health club membership at the luncheon is
tangible and public. Getting a $25 gas card and a handshake in the boss's office is tangible and
private. Having people stop by your cubical and thank you individually is intangible and private.
What are the signs of poor reward structuring?
I taught a seminar at a US Navy
laboratory for about 50 engineers. The event was organized by Lt. Commander Dave, an
engineer himself. Just before we began, the commanding officer breezed in and said," Hey,
guys, before we start, let's have Lt. Commander Dave stand up and everybody give him a
round of applause. He did a great job putting this together." Everyone dutifully did so.
During the first group exercise, I walked over to Dave and said, "You didn't enjoy that
did you?" Dave replied, " $%@#*! I hate it when he does that." The last thing on earth
the CO wants is Dave looking for another assignment, but the officer is busy making it
happen because he had no sense of what constitutes a reward to a Group III engineer.
You can see where the MRA Profile Groups lie on our rewards grid. A good manager will be
attentive to the grid and even go deeper. The CO should have complimented Dave in private and
offered a tangible reward if possible. Had he been able to read the "Rewards" section of Dave's
profile, he could have made a much more effective and motivational choice.
Another hallmark of poor reward structuring is regularly hearing the old adage, "No good
deed goes unpunished." High Ascendancy people like authority, control, and access to the "big picture."
Reinforcing and expanding these areas of their work - for instance, giving them larger roles in more
challenging projects - feels like a reward to them. Low Ascendancy people might well feel burdened
by the same assignment change because the work of achieving consensus and cooperation just became
High Sociability people regard any opportunity for more positive interaction and communication
with others as a reward. Giving them the opportunity to present, train, or be a corporate
resource in their area feels like a reward, as long as the situation is not combative or
contentious. Low sociability people often find such activities a strain.
Naturally, we divide the work load according to organizational needs, and tailor every decision to the profile.
But you should recognize that if a particular action or assignment is going to feel like a reward,
then use it as one in your motivational efforts.
Questions or Comments? Send us an email.