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Opps #1 of 13 Practices That Waste Time and Money. EOM


Aubrey Daniels book Oops goes against conventional wisdom, and so I must forewarn you that you may not agree with all of his assertions, indeed I’m still struggling with some of them. I’ll do my best to give you his reasoning and allow you to be the judge whether you adopt his practices or not. 

Employee of the Month is the first practice he says to eliminate. It fails to follow effective rules for making behavior work.  If you believe an EOM motivates employees, Daniels emphatically says it doesn’t.   Daniels points out that this award precludes recognizing others. No matter how many employees you have the rest are just another employee. Recognition is infrequent, as the EOM typically rotates through the staff, it can take a long time for an employee to be recognized, in many cases years. Recognition is not earned, and Daniels is big on making sure recognition and rewards are earned not given. In most cases the EOM isn’t sure what they did to earn the award. Finally EOM is not reinforcing. Typically employees are embarrassed, or apathetic. Why do so many companies do it? It’s usually easy to administer, takes little time to choose the EOM, rewards are inexpensive, and usually the person receiving it gets excited. 
The danger with EOM and any recognition system is that it limits in some way the number of employees who can receive the award. Many reward and recognition programs are built around negative reinforcement.  When establishing any reward or recognition program you should ask, “What are you trying to accomplish?”
I’ll leave the details of what you should do instead for you to read in Daniels book. Here however are his rules for an effective recognition and reward program:
  1. Create a positive reinforcement culture. 
  2. Teach all employees about positive reinforcement as a scientific concept. 
  3. Don’t limit the number of employees who can be recognized and rewarded.
  4. Set criteria such that everyone who exceeds the goal or standard performance is recognized and rewarded.
  5. Avoid recognition and rewards where the adjectives, first, top, best, and most improved are used. 
  6. Set the awards in such a way that you will be happiest when all employees earn them at the same time. 
Daniels provides this example for the last rule in the book: Mary Kay Cosmetics Company has a fleet of over 9000 earned pink Cadillacs but would gladly award several times that many every year, because the criteria for earning one are based on sales that benefit the company. Therefore the more Cadillac’s that are awarded the more successful the company becomes.
Ruffling a few feathers with these points? Number two on Daniels list of practices to avoid is one that I’ve been a frequent offender of – Stretch Goals. I have a story about my first experience with stretch goals that poignantly illustrates Daniels view on this and provides an excellent example of how negative reinforcement is used in the workplace. Join me for this in my next blog. 


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