3 Things You Should Know About Rewards – 2 Minute Tip

Rewarding people is a great tool for your leader’s tool kit, but there are three things you should keep in mind if you want the reward you give to have the greatest impact.


You know, not too long ago, I was on a trail run through the forest, and as I was going along, I looked down and saw this beautiful turkey feather – a lot like this one.  I passed it, but then turned back.  It was beautiful and just lying there in the trail.  I picked it up.

We had a camp out with the Scout troop coming up, and it occurred to me that the Scouts might like to have the feather, but who to give it to.  That’s when I came up with the idea of using it as a reward.  The Scout who distinguished himself the most would be awarded the turkey feather.

When it is time to recognize someone for an accomplishment, you can take a cue from Little League baseball coaches, or this feather idea.  When you recognize someone, do it in three ways:

First, what you should give them should be unique.  There’s only one game ball; not everyone has a turkey feather.  What you give them doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful, but it helps if it is one of a kind.

Second, present the reward promptly.  Getting the game ball will have a lot less meaning if you don’t get it until a month or two after the game.  All the excitement of the achievement has worn off by then, and a lot of other things have happened.  Give the reward as soon after the accomplishment a possible, while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind so they closely attach the reward to the activity that deserved it.

And third, present it publicly.  It might be nice to get the game ball from the coach, but it will mean a whole lot more if the rest of the team is there to see it when it happens, maybe the parents too.  That’s where the real value of the reward comes in – it’s the social recognition, the acceptance and esteem that comes with it that makes it meaningful.

By the end of the camping weekend, I knew who I would give it to – this guy had been a great team player, was helping everybody, always cheerful, and trying hard all the time.  So just before it was time to leave, I gathered everyone together and talked about a new award I was going to start giving out to recognize the best team player

It was fun to see his reaction and the impact that it had.

Rewarding people is a great tool for your leader’s tool kit.  Just remember, if you want it to have the greatest impact, make sure what you give is unique, give it promptly, and give it publicly.

And that’s your RapidStart Leadership Two minute tip for the day.

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About the Author: Ken Downer
Ken Downer - Founder RapidStart Leadership

Ken served for 26 years in the Infantry, retiring as a Colonel.  From leading patrols in the Korean DMZ, to parachuting into the jungles of Panama, to commanding a remote outpost on the Iran-Iraq border, he has learned a lot about leadership, and has a passion for sharing that knowledge with others.  Look for his weekly posts, check out his online courses, subscribe below, or simply connect, he loves to talk about this stuff.

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