Rewarded for Good Behavior

Photo by Eric Ziegler
In my last post, I talked about removing an expert from a team to make the team more effective. Obviously, the wrong behavior from an expert can be bad for a team. But not all experts are bad for a team and not all experts exhibit bad behaviors. In addition experts are definitely not bad for organizations as a whole. And that is what this blog post is about - experts rewarded the right way can be invaluable in an organization.

Employees are often rewarded for being the expert at something - Java development, financial analysis, trader, vendor product integration, sales person, etc. The question is, how are these "experts" rewarded. Does the reward influence behaviors and make the individual better, the team better, or the company better? Ideally the reward is influencing to have a positive impact on the individual, the team and the company. But more often than not, the reward is not given as a reward that enhances the team or the company directly and is directed at the individual. In some cases, these rewards could have a negative effect to the team or the company.

Rewards are often given to the expert for some type of heroics. Saving the day when the system blows up or bringing in the big dollars at the end of the quarter, or delivering functionality after spending 20 hours one day implementing or delivering on a major project. It is easy to find reasons to give rewards under these circumstances. But experts are much more valuable to an organization than heroics and rewarding employees and experts for the material things we see everyday.

Experts and employees can provide much more value in an organization by sharing their knowledge and information about their expertise. They are much more valuable when they help others, educate others, and coach others. And experts should be rewarded for these good behaviors. Experts and employees should be rewarded for sharing their knowledge to their team and rewarded even more for sharing their knowledge to other parts of the organization.

Enterprises typically do not have reward systems in place that account for the team sharing or the organization sharing. In addition, there are little to no expectations set by organizations for employees to share. While rewards and expectations are great, there is another issue. Employees are not provided any guidelines on what, how, when, where, and why to share. Employees are also not given any guidelines or expectations on who to share information with. Even if an organization has rewards for this type of behavior, without help, the employees will flounder and in some cases share in ways that are not as effective as possible.

As organizations change and start thinking about how their employees can share information more freely, they will need to not only setup expectations they will need to tell the employees what sharing looks like so the employees can mimic these good behaviors. Lastly, to reinforce these good behaviors, a little reward does not hurt.