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Don't Forget to Provide Incentives For Your Middle Performers

January 1, 2000
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Related Topics: Recognition, Featured Article
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At the risk of likening employees to Pavlov's dogs, I think it's safe to say that it's human nature to repeat rewarded behaviors. And if you praise the right behaviors—the ones that work toward company goals—you'll have yourself one killer organization.

This kind of strategic alignment is important. However, you must also embrace your middle 60 percent.

There's no point in only recognizing your top performers. They already know exactly what to do. Doesn't it make a heck of a lot more sense to use positive reinforcement toward bringing everyone else up to speed?

Now, I'm not advocating recognition for recognition's sake, but I do believe in making it attainable for those who want to achieve. And I'd argue that's almost everyone.

To do this, it's important to break down your company goals into recognizable, daily behaviors. Instead of simply stating, "Our goal is more sales," try asking, "What customer service acts result in more sales?"

This change in thinking not only makes the goal everyone's responsibility, but the answer gives your staff something real to focus on and get praised for.

Once everyone does the little things right, the big results will follow. That's the key to unlocking the unrealized potential of recognition.

Workforce, January 2000, Vol. 79, No. 1, p. 62.

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