Secret Sauce for Performance – Knowing What Matters to Your People. A story . . .

Movie or concert tickets symbol
Image via Wikipedia

A friend recently told me a great story.  As part of a performance evaluation for one of his people who had worked hard this past year he gave all the things he was expected to provide – feedback in the form of an evaluation and a wage increase.  But for this employee, he also handed tickets to a concert for he and his wife.  The source of this gift was a conversation a couple of months earlier when it was shared that his wife loved this artist, but they could not justify the cost at that time.  This third piece brought forth a response of passion and gratitude that way exceeded the response to the first two rewards.  My friend hit the secret sauce of performance – knowing your people and giving them something REALLY special when they deserve it.

One question I love to ask people is What rewards mean the most to you?  Too often Management 101 discussions neglect to tell the new leader that money is not a motivator.  If that is not understood then you only have to sit in a room with 10 of your people and have someone like me ask that question.  Money will be mentioned, but it is not at the top of the list. 

Great rewards go deeper than just the standard list.  The ability to connect family members, hobbies, or passions outside of work allows you to do two things:

  1. Show that you care about them as a person.
  2. Speak to other significant people in their lives with a message that you/your company cares.  These friends/spouses are the people who encourage them after a day when maybe you are not so great a leader (we all have those days).  They will also tell the story to other great people who might be looking to work for a great company/leader.  The textbooks call these two things retention and attraction – and they are pretty important.

Interested in being this kind of leader?  Here are two moves you can make:

  1. Keep a file with everyone’s name and their answer to the question What rewards mean the most to you?
  2. Keep notes in your file anytime they say I love to  _________ or We would really like to see/go to _____________.

Then you just have to follow through when they do something great – but that is the easy part.