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Team Rewards: Recognizing Employee Performance For ONLY The Best Team Members

Question: I lead three other team members and was recently given a substantial monetary bonus for my leadership skills during a difficult transition period. I would like to share a part of my reward, but with only two of the members since one team member was ineffective and uninterested in working on the change. My question is: is it good leadership to reward only two of my team members?

The use of rewards as part of team leadership is important, but it's good to keep in mind that providing monetary rewards is neither necessary, nor essential to building team loyalty. In fact, it's a bit of a risky business.

Common sense does not always lead one to a good conclusion, and this situation may be one of those situations.

To answer the question, it is possible to reward some, but not all, team members, provided the criteria for rewards have been stated and perhaps agreed upon in advance by team members. The key here is they should be established in advance which appears to not be the case in this situation.

Since the reward criteria have not been established beforehand, the best answer is "No, it's not a good idea". Playing with rewards, from a leadership position after the fact is more likely to create hard feelings, and damage your ability to lead in the future.

It's also worth thinking about whether it even makes sense to reward team achievement collectively through the application of individual rewards. Teams achieve together. Why reward individually, and what perceptions does that create?

In this situation, since no advance planning was done, the most sensible thing would be to recognize the achievements and contributions of the team by doing something nice, like taking them out to dinner, rather than using money after the fact.


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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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