Richard talked a lot with his co-workers about his wish to have a rare breed cow for his small farm where he lived. And one saturday morning, a truck arrived at his farm delivering that special cow. As a surprise, from his manager, because Richard pulled off an exceptionally difficult project. A special, non-monetary recognition.
Clara, an office clerk, loved great food, but couldn’t afford the pleasures of a three Michelin star meal. After a year of hard work and many extra hours, her managers offered her, as a token of appreciation, to have diner in a great (and expensive) restaurant of her dreams, together with her husband. All costs were taken care off, including the taxi and the babysitter. And her manager encouraged her not to hold back when choosing the fine wines.
Two real life examples of a rewards that were not in the employee benefits guidelines of the companies Richard and Clara worked for. The initiative of managers who grabbed the space provided by the managers’ discretion policies, was key.
Trusting manager’s en teamleader’s insight and judgement and allowing room to act as they see fit, is an interesting alternative to organisation red-tape, with its standards and procedures that only deliver non-disctinct, dull outcomes for recognition. The bureaucracy of strict and detailed policies and guide-lines may be predictable and seemingly fair, but the chances for true and personal appreciation are rather small.
A policy of manager’s discretion (or teams’s discretion) combined with an encouragement to use it (creatively), is a small thing that can work wonders. And not only for recognition of exemplary work. Such an element of organisation design proofs not only to be worthwhile for the employee, it provides also a lot of fun for the manager when he or she succesfully acts at the discretion provided (or taken).
Beauty is not in the standardisation of behaviour, but in the room for initiative and creativity.
A nice bonus.