By Emily Morrow

How Reward Systems Can Help You Delegate More Effectively


Strategies for implementing successful reward systems that motivate people to get things done.

We may be reluctant to admit it, but extrinsic motivation is an important factor in success.

In fact, according to a recent Globoforce survey, 78 percent of employees say they would work harder if they were better recognized. 

By taking the time and resources to appropriately reward your employees or team members for a job well done, you’re showing them that you — and your company — value their work. This type of positive reinforcement helps people take more pride in their work, feel reinvigorated about their role, and be motivated to continue putting in their best effort.

There are myriad ways you can reward your team, and not all of them are monetary! While bonuses or time off are big gestures that are often appreciated, sometimes the best reward can be as simple as a public shout-out during an all-staff meeting, treating someone to a coffee one-on-one, or a sincere thank you email.

But rewarding and recognizing your team can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach; each piece of validation should appropriately match your employee and the accomplishment you’re hoping to recognize.

How to pick the right system

So how do you decide what is the right way to reward exceptional performance?

Start by thinking about the individual.

While your team might be unified when it comes to your goals, it’s important to remember that your team is made up of unique people who all have different wants and needs. The way you want to be rewarded or recognized is likely not to be the same as your colleague!

My team recently completed a DISC assessment to identify our working styles and preferences, including how we prefer to receive feedback and praise, and it was *such* an eye-opening experience.

DISC is a personal assessment tool that can help your team better understand themselves and their communication styles. When used in a group where the knowledge is shared, understanding these things about your colleagues can go a long way in improving workplace dynamics and efficiency. There are lots of other, similar options out there too — here's a list of a few to try:

Within DISC, people are classified according to four basic behavioral styles: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientious. Most people are a combination of multiple styles, with at least one key or dominant trait. You might recognize yourself or some of your colleagues in these descriptions:

People who are high D’s are directive and dominant. Their focus is on immediate action and getting results, and they are typically not interested in placing an emphasis on interpersonal interactions. For someone who identifies as a D, their ideal rewards would focus on independence and new opportunities. Maybe you could ask them to be the one to present their great work at your team meeting, or take the lead on a new project.

I’s are interpersonal gurus. They’re the team member who remembers everyone’s birthdays and who’s always stopping to chat in the kitchen. They are outgoing, likely extroverts, and they value the personal relationships of their work above all else. An I would *love* to be rewarded with a public praise or a team gathering in their honor. If this sounds like someone on your team, consider giving them a sincere shout-out in your next all-staff meeting or asking them to plan a fun team outing.

S stands for steadiness. These people also value relationships, but their focus is on cooperation and being a team player. Where D’s and I’s can be impulsive and make decisions quickly, your S colleagues prefer to take their time to be thorough and think things through to make sure you’re taking the best route that will benefit everyone. S’s can sometimes feel uncomfortable advocating for themselves above the group, so make sure that you’re not putting them publicly on the spot when you’re rewarding them. A one-on-one lunch or a shout-out that recognizes them as part of an outstanding team would go over best.

C’s are conscientious. Like D’s, they are highly independent and care more about results than relationships, but unlike D’s, they are *very* thorough and prioritize the process above all else. The C’s on your team have the most detailed Excel spreadsheets and are great at giving thorough instructions, but often aren’t the colleague who seeks out social interaction. Someone who is a C would likely be uncomfortable with public praise and would likely prefer to be rewarded with a personal note or a one-on-one coffee.

Once my team went through this exercise together, it became so clear why one of my colleagues never gives public praise — she's a D! — and why other team members who were I’s or S’s were craving that type of validation. It worked the other way, too — when our I’s were shouting out C’s at staff meetings, it was making them uncomfortable.

Once you understand your team members’ wants and needs, it's your job as the manager to stretch yourself to accommodate them — not the other way around. If public praise makes you uncomfortable, fine, but if you realize your team is craving that as recognition for their work, it's important to make that effort.

Knowing the people that you are working with is crucial to implementing a rewards system that actually *feels* rewarding to each and every person. 

How to implement a rewards system

Once you understand what your team actually wants and needs to feel validated and appreciated, it's time to identify some of your options for rewarding your team. Here are some great options that go beyond bonuses and raises:

  • Team lunch
  • One-on-one coffee or lunch
  • Team happy hour
  • Thank you note
  • A professional development book
  • Team cooking class
  • A LinkedIn endorsement 
  • Company swag
  • Team workout
  • VIP parking in your garage or parking lot for a day/week
  • Sending someone to a conference
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donation in team member’s name
  • A plant for your colleague’s workspace
  • A day of volunteering with an organization of your colleague’s choice

There's a product for that

You know that if you have a workplace project or concern, Ink+Volt probably has a product that can help. Here are some great tools you can use to implement and maintain reward systems within your team:

  • For Me/For You Notepad: This new addition to the Ink+Volt collection is here to help you brainstorm, collaborate, and delegate within a team (or your own home!). With one side for “my” to-dos and one for “yours,” delegating has never been easier. Plus, there's space to identify a special reward each party will get once their tasks are completed, making it easy to set expectations and motivate your team to accomplish their goals!
  • Calendar: You’re busy, we know, but this desk-sized calendar can help you make sure that you don't lose sight of the commitments you want to keep, like that monthly team happy hour you set up to reward your sales force for their performance.
  • Thank you notes: Sometimes, a sincerely written thank you note acknowledging someone's hard work can be the best reward of all. Any one of these stunning stationery options will help you convey your message with a touch of flair.
  • Pen: If gifting is more your thing, a nice pen like this is the perfect way to say “great job!” while remaining professional.

Whether you're buying your team drinks or just saying, “Great job,” in a sincere and meaningful way, recognizing your team’s excellent work with small rewards is a fantastic way to make your team feel valued, which will in turn help keep them motivated and engaged. We can’t wait to see how you implement rewards with your teams!