Leader Volume 9, Number 1
section has featured quite a few examples of how certain rewards,
instead of driving innovation, actually inhibit innovation.
So let me give you an example of how rewards in my division
have been extremely effective.
Our annual salary
increases and bonuses, I assume, are pretty much the same as in
other companies. Almost
everyone complains that they ought to receive more money.
In fact, it seems that it’s human nature that people
never have “enough,” whether they are paupers or billionaires.
Therefore, super raises and super bonuses aren’t that
useful--except to retain people who may leave for a substantially
higher salary. But
most of us will never get an offer for twice our salaries.
president of my division has taken it upon himself to give an
annual gift to each person in the division. The average cost of
the gift is about $50. That, by itself, won’t stimulate anyone’s innovative
what makes this special is that each gift is personalized. The
vice president frequently tours the facility and makes sure to
chat with each staff member.
Somehow, he remembers everyone’s name and gets to know
something about the person. Either
he’s got a great memory, or he jots down the information right
after a visit. We
know he also learns a lot about us through our supervisors.
Anyway, the gifts
arrive at our homes to celebrate our birthdays.
Attached to the gift is a personal note signed by the vice
president. The note
thanks the recipient for a specific contribution, and includes a
happy birthday wish. Gifts
include a fancy knife (to a gourmet cook), subscriptions to Business
Week and Inc. (for a
technologist who is becoming interested in the business side of
work), and a box of quality jams (after learning that person
enjoys big breakfasts; that’s why he doesn’t eat lunch).
more than anything else (including bonuses) in the company, has
made this division become extremely dynamic.
We would do anything for our vice president, and we will do
anything we can to let him achieve his goals, the goals of our
The gifts don’t
dent the financial columns in any significant manner.
The personalization of these gifts, however, does involve a
significant time commitment to the vice president.
But I’d bet this time commitment is far less than the
time that he would have to sacrifice in dealing with unhappy and
complaining staff. We
achieve beyond our objectives.