Archive for the ‘Rewards’ Category

A very simple thing happened at work today.  Without going into details, suffice it to say that to many it would seem anything but remarkable – good, but hardly anything to write home about.  Yet, for me, it was the culmination of a wish and effort in a major area of responsibility for me for over the past two years.  It was a very big deal, I think, for the future of communication at my company.

There were a lot of different thoughts and feelings occurring as it unfolded today:

  • The personal satisfaction of knowing it was finally happening;
  • Gratefulness for all the others in a very long process for the role each played in making it happen;
  • Anticipation of what the reaction of others might be – who would note the significance and who might miss it.

Once the deed was done, I could not stop smiling.  Even out walking the dog tonight, that was foremost on my mind and caused me to smile with satisfaction.  It still does.

The truth is that even though the act itself was very simple, what went into it was anything but simple or quick.  Whether others recognize that fact is up to them.  At least I see it as the culmination of much work.

In December 2010 I spoke at a conference in San Francisco.  The moderator asked me what my goal was for embarking on the internal communications route we had been discussing.  My response to him was “I want to change the way communication happens at my company.”  Today’s seemingly small step was really a major one in making that come to pass.  If nobody else notices, it is enough for me to know we made a huge stride today, because I know what has gone into it and because I know its significance.

Leap year lesson #188 is Nothing beats deep personal satisfaction.

How good are you at making trades with others?  I have to admit that I’m a terrible negotiator in some circumstances.  I just can’t stand the process, so I don’t bother.  (I did, however, do a pretty good job of bartering while in China back in April.)  However, when it comes to conjuring trades with myself, I’m pretty good at it.

For example, when I have a heavy load of things to do, it isn’t unusual for me to think of some way to reward myself at set intervals so that I have a break and a little fun along the way.  When running around the 1.2 mile loop of the nearby park, I’ll reward myself with a walk between two lamp posts after I have jogged between several more than that.

This week with both of our vehicles being in the shop at some point and with me consequently taking the bus to work, I was reminded of how much I get done while riding the bus for those 20-25 minutes each way.  I also like the fact that I save money because I’m not using gas and my company pays for employees to take the bus as an encouragement to reduce pollution.

One thing I like to do while riding is use an app on my smartphone to review my top 100 Bible verses that I’ve etched into my memory for the last several years.  It’s a good way to start the day and to get myself in a healthy frame of mind before tackling the work day.  So the thought came to mind this week that I could make a trade with myself.  What would it be like to decide to ride the bus each week at least for as many days as it takes me to fully review those verses?  It will likely only be 1-2 days per week of taking the bus, but the pleasure of driving my car and spending less time commuting would be the reward for the remainder of the week, having completed the review of verses early in the week.

I think I’ll give it a try and see what happens.

Leap year lesson #185 is Make yourself a trade.

Most studies I’ve seen affirm that you don’t always have to use money or tangible rewards to motivate others.  In fact, I think it’s true that you can’t motivate others at all because motivation is intrinsic and individual.  What motivates me to do my best may not be the same as what motivates someone else.

Motivators may include a desire to do one’s best, to impress, to move up the ladder, to earn money, to help others, to show off one’s skills or knowledge, to get even, to leave a legacy, to receive recognition or many other reasons.  I do the best I can at what I do because the quality of the work and the potential positive impact on others drives me.  A paycheck is nice, too.  Still, I really enjoy an occasional “attaboy” from others.  If I’m running low on gas, it tends to fill my tank.

I was reminded of this recently when organizing an annual awards process related to the internal social network I manage.  We have several individual and group awards where nominees and recipients are determined by community vote.  Through the positive reactions of those nominated and those who won the awards, it is evident that the recognition of their peers means something to them.  And it should.  A chunk of the remainder of my week will go to writing personal notes to the winners and sending them their award.  We’ll keep their achievement prominently displayed online until next year’s awards.

Personally, it’s been nice this year to have a regular flow of external recognitions of the work I’ve done leading our internal community.  I’ve been asked to present webinars for other companies’ community managers,  to speak at conferences, interviewed by authors in the process of writing books and research reports, to document a case study of what we’ve done for other companies to use as a model, and this Friday I’ll be interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article.  Those are all nice strokes that fill the gas tank and help motivate me to continue to do what I love.  I’m not alone in being boosted by occasional recognition.

Leap year lesson #152 is Positive recognition can mean a lot.

“Before” photo

I went through one of the most grueling physical experiences I’ve ever attempted yesterday.  Two of my coworkers, their spouses and a friend joined together to form a team to complete the Muddy Fanatic race in Sellersburg, Indiana.  It’s a 5K (3.1 mile) muddy obstacle course on a farm that took us about two hours and twenty minutes to complete.

The course requires you to handle mud pits, ponds, creek beds, crawling through mud & water under barbed wire, mud walls, rope walls, walls with no rope, rope swings, a ginormous hill that seemed like it would never end, hay bales to jump across, deep muddy paths everywhere and occasional blissful stretches of dry path with only the smell of cow manure to taint the momentary relief.  This is not your typical 5K race.  In fact, nobody officially kept time for this – you either finish it or you don’t.  Organizers had to modify one part of the course before our wave of participants took off because of someone breaking an arm on a dangerous mud hill slide that dropped off at the end into a pit.

Before we were even home from the experience, my body was yelling at me “What were you thinking?”  None of us had done any training.  We just up and ran a 20+ obstacle two-hour race on a sunny day with the temp in the high 80s.

“After” photo

By today my body was as sore and spent as I ever remember being, even after running half-marathons of nearly the same length of time.  It took over 24 hours before my mind kicked back into normal (for good or bad) following several hours of napping this afternoon.

So what did I learn from the experience?  I learned that I have some amazing coworkers and friends who are a blast to try something extreme with.  I probably did not learn to not do it again, because I probably will.  And even though the body is spent, the satisfaction of completing it (and being the oldest person I recall seeing on the course) leads me to leap year lesson #133: Exhaustion can hurt so good.

My dear wife called me tonight crying. I’m in Austin, TX and she is back home in Louisville, KY. Why was she crying? Because of how happy she is with the state of our remodeled kitchen that is in its final stages of work this week.

She said that she just can’t believe it’s actually her kitchen. What makes it especially important to her is that she is a kitchen hostess for our church. She cooks for her job (and does so very, very well). We have lived in our house for almost 24 years now and the kitchen needed a radical makeover. So that’s what we did. We hired contractors to completely gut what was there – cabinets, appliances, floor, everything – even tear down a wall to open up the kitchen/dining area and board up a window to make room for a double oven. Our son, Jason, designed what a new kitchen might look like, and we went for it.

So for the past four weeks progress has been steady and will wrap up in the next few days. It is so perfect and so beautiful that she had to call and she was crying with joy when I answered the phone.

That is a very good feeling. Linda is a loving, faithful, hard-working, giving person who spends most of her days serving others. It’s good to see something good come her way for once. I know she will put that kitchen to good use in continuing to serve and love others selflessly.

In a world where we too often see good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, it is a welcome change to see a good thing happen to a good person.

Linda, I love you and I’m happy for you. I’m glad you have something close to the kitchen of your dreams and I look forward to having many guests here to share good times for many years to come.

Leap year lesson #74 is It’s nice when good things happen to good people.