REWARD ENCOURAGES BEAST.....OOPS, BEST!
Challenges and accomplishments Neera and Vijit’s experience proved to be an asset in the project. Both were technically qualified and committed to the work. Both wanted to excel in their work. Neera knew that with a big team, verbal instructions will get diluted and therefore written instructions were important. Manuals were prepared for each aspect of assessment and the entire field staff was meticulously trained so that clarity about the work and mechanism to complete it is ensured. From his previous experience, Vijit knew the importance of logistics and got everything streamlined for smooth flow of the project. They wanted to get regular feedback for the work, so monitoring systems were created to know the status of the work on regular basis and so that corrections could be made well in time. After the initial hiccups, the assessment work started. In addition to the technical aspects, managerial aspects were a big issue and took lot of time and energy of the core team. The hilly topography of the state coupled with hostile weather also posed a lot of problems as the transportation channels were adversely affected. Many a times, communication and travel was hampered and the teams were forced to halt at a single place, which caused delay in work. Neera was mostly in the field for technical and moral support of the team. She visited each district at least once. On some occasions, Vijit also accompanied her. Both visited all types of health facilities and developed a good understanding of the lacunas and challenges faced by each type of health facility. The prior experience in handling such big teams helped Neera and Vijit in anticipating the probable technical, logistic and management problems and prevented deadlocks and big conflicts. The limitations of one were filled in by the expertise of the other. The smoothness with which the work was done and the efficiency with which it was executed in the field made Neera very satisfied, she felt very strong and powerful. Neera and Vijit could foresee that the weather would lead to delay in completion of the project, they wrote a request letter for an extension for three months which was granted to them. The work contract of the entire team was also extended for three months. Despite the delay, the results of the work were very promising. Neera and Vijit could come up with evidence-based recommendations required for re-engineering the hospitals which were greatly appreciated by the state team. The challenging work was to implement the suggested changes. Though the work was strenuous, the team had developed good rapport by then and everyone implemented the work with a lot of enthusiasm. The pilot work was extremely successful. YHMH team received excellent review and applause for the brilliant work.
By the end of the project, Neera and Vijit had developed a good understanding. They recognized each other’s strengths. After the completion of the project, both started writing and bidding for other consultancies together as a team. As Neera and Vijit had graduated from different disciplines, professionally they complemented each other and the experience of working with each other helped them in appreciating each other’s competencies. The other older friends and colleagues of both Neera and Vijit who till now had been working either with Neera or Vijit also joined them and it was not long that this team increased in its width. All these staff members who had come together because of management’s decision now actually started looking for opportunities when they could work together. While the team including Neera, Vijit and other colleagues were engrossed in their own work, holding technical discussions and critiques, it was started to be recognized as a self-sufficient competent team by other staff and colleagues. This was reflected from the amount of proposals submitted by them in that small duration and complementary remarks by other colleagues. The team also started attracting the annoyance and disgust of some other colleagues who probably felt ignored and sidelined. The incident One day, Neera received a phone call from the department of administration with a request to meet the HR Manager. On meeting, she was handed over an appreciation letter in which good work for the project was appreciated and a cash reward of INR 71,000 (US$1,065.26) was declared. The first thing which struck her was the odd amount (In India, there are some auspicious amounts e.g. Rs 11,000, Rs 21,000, Rs 51,000 and so on which are usually awarded unless it is based on some formula). It was obvious for her to ask as to how the amount was determined and if any formula was used in deciding the amount. She also inquired about the reward to other members of the team. The administrative head informed her that all the core team members would be given some reward for the good work but politely declined all questions about the amount. Neera urged in the name of transparency and explained that since she headed the project, she needs to know about the amount being distributed to her team mates and also the basis of deciding the amount. The administrative head stated that sharing the details of award amount is not transparency and cannot be disclosed. Neera kept on thinking about the definition of transparency. She also thought that if it was reward, why was it being given behind the closed doors. The administrative head off course assured her that all team members including Vijit had been rewarded. Neera thought that it would not be ethical to take away the reward amount without the knowledge of Vijit who equally contributed in the good work. She was anxious as to what would be the award for Vijit. She did not want it to be any less as they had worked as equals. It was only the designation which she had in the project was above Vijit. Pondering over all these issues, Neera showed her appreciation letter to Vijit and also told him about the reward amount. Sharing her apprehensions with Vijit, she asked him to let her know the reward amount given to him with her as she would prefer discussing with management if some unfair treatment had been done. She wished in her heart that the management would have been fair as she did not want any unpleasantness for the project which was completed so remarkably. There was some hope somewhere that discrimination would not have been done as among other things, Vijit was a good friend of the administrative head so quite understandably, the head would not let discrimination happen with him.
Almost a month was gone after the reward distribution, Vijit did not discuss about it. The reward money had been reflected in the salary slip so Neera knew that even Vijit had received it, but she did not understand the silence of Vijit. It was true that both had been busy in their respective works too-consultancies and travelling for other projects, so did not get time. It was, however equally correct that they had interacted many a times but Vijit did not utter anything about the reward money. Whenever she wanted to discuss it, Vijit avoided it. Neera was anxious and wanted to be sure that fairness was maintained and was looking for a proper time to speak about it. While all this was going on in her mind, the other colleagues came to know about the reward
through their own information sources. Officially, it was a private appreciation! So the colleagues inquired, congratulated and also shared their opinions about the amount. And through multiple sources, Neera come to know that Vijit had been awarded a sum of INR 100000 (USD 1,521.75) Neera’s reaction Neera was completely taken aback, also because Vijit did not share this with her. She had worked with Vijit for a year, is it that she did not understand him? Is her assessment for people so poor? Is it that Vijit knew from the very beginning that it is not him, but Neera who was going to face discrimination and therefore remained silent or was he under some discomfort because of the discrimination and so hesitant to discuss it. Is it that Vijit did not want to hurt her sentiments so had tried to avoid this. Neera knew that it was not a matter of INR 30,000, which had upset her; it would not have made her any richer. She had worked in the organization for 10 years, but was never rewarded, over and above her annual appraisal. She had always received positive reviews by the agencies she worked with and was content with her work alone. She kept on pondering what type of reward was this which had rather stressed her more; it had left her self-esteem bruised, her trust shattered. Had she become target of some office game? Had she been a victim of politics? Was this a tactic to introduce conflict in the team and lessen their power? She started looking for other job opportunities. Her interest in all organizational activities faded away. She wanted to know why she had been discriminated, what were the performance issues? She wrote a request letter to the management asking them to share the objective standards of reward distribution. She wrote to all concerned-the HR Manager and the Director. Nevertheless, she did not get a reply. It was not something which was unexpected owing to YHMH’s not so transparent policies. Neera was hoping a response as she thought that she had earned credibility by her good work and long association with YHMH and therefore the management would take her dissatisfaction on a serious note and would care to respond to her. She knew that YHMH was never good with transparent policies and open norms, but those things did not bother her until the time her own hands got burnt with it. Favoritism was becoming a norm in last few years, but it was done in a secretive way by instructing the recipient to remain silent about it. Those who became the victims or were ignored in this type of financial appreciation could not raise the issue as they came to know about it quite late. Moreover, in absence of parameters of assessment, the management’s decision could not be questioned. This time, Neera came to know about it quite timely and also decided to confront by demanding the objective parameters of the decision on rewards by refusing to accept the discrimination made. This issue made it the talk of the office. As the news of this discrimination started spreading, office colleagues come to her and expressed their concerns and pondered about the deteriorating culture of YHMH. From office colleagues, she came to know that one another colleague, who was working on some other project also got the reward of the same amount as Neera but he was the one, whose project had incurred financial loss and was also the one which was not much appreciated by the funders. One quality which he possessed was closeness with the office management. Neera was all the more disturbed that she was equated with the person who carries an image of an incompetent and insincere person. The actions which warranted penalization, had not been even reprimanded, rather rewarded! The other employees would murmur, “It is pointless to work hard here, they will reward only a few, whom they like?” “Why worry, they have no value for competent people??” “This organization has learnt to lend hand to those whom they like not those who are to be liked for organizational good?” Neera was reminded of an article in Harvard Business Review in which Susan David, co-director of the Harvard/McLean Institute of Coaching, founding director of Evidence Based Psychology LLC and a contributor to HBR’s The Conversation blog, wrote, “I think who an organization promotes is a very strong index of their core culture”. The article had elaborated that managers should recognize that who they reward sends a signal to the rest of the organization and therefore, they need to be sure they are endorsing behavior that is in line with the organization’s values.
Neera comforted herself with the thought that the episode made her learn that good work by committed people was not endorsed at YHMH, it was being in good relations, regardless of good work which was important. Though she could not know what led to discrimination against her but the entire office along with her came to know that good work was not the criteria for rewards. In one of the meetings, when the Additional Director tried to convey that good and streamlined work is an important determinant of reward, Neera got into an argument with him and questioned about performance management system at YHMH, which he could not reply satisfactorily. Employees joked among themselves that this is the only organization where other than work and competence, everything else was important. There was a performance which was beyond the parameters provided in Performance Management System of YHMH. For Neera, such things brought both pain and peace. While deterioration of culture of the organization where she had been working for 10 plus years pinched her, at the same time, it provided solace to her bruised self-esteem. She knew that this very organization which was recognized for its excellence was changing and changing for worse. She herself became reactive and excessively sensitive to petty issues. Past few days, she entered into many hot altercations with her colleagues, that too at slightest provocation. She had become skeptical about involving new people in her work and said that she preferred to work alone. This surprised the ones who had known Neera as a team player who had supported colleagues and youngsters in their career building. She had declined the requests of funding agencies which had approached her to write proposals for new assignments. She was happy to be not contributing as “contributing or not contributing”; the organizational treatment was perceived same. She knows that the reward has brought out not the best but the beast in her!
Q6. Should organizations be giving rewards and recognitions? Please elaborate with reasons and appropriate mechanisms. What rewards – financial and/or non-financial – should be promoted in the organization?
Yes, organizations should be giving rewards and recognitions as they provide a great source of employee motivation. If we think about the expectancy theory, people's actions will be governed by the type of expectations they have will be warded to them after the task. For motivating the people for doing the work properly, they should be given their desired rewards. This awarding of reward and recognition depends on the organization's culture as well as on the employee's desirability. This system is generally practiced to enhance the quality of the performance of the employees. The reasons for providing this type of rewards or recognition are as follows-
1, To boost the employee's morale or psychologically appreciate him/her for his good work.
2. To enhance the employee satisfaction level / productivity
3.If the employees are contented, their work and behavior will also improve and this will led to achieving the final goal of customer satisfaction.
4. The employees will consider themselves as a part of the organization since their hard work has been valued by the organization.
5. This system will encourage building a positive atmosphere in the organization as everybody feels happy when their work is recognized whether financially or non-financially.
6. The profitability of the organization will also increase as the production of the employees increases.
There are different mechanisms used for rewarding or recognizing-
1. Employees like some what personified rewards.ie. the reward is awarded on;ly to them.
2. They can be given better work opportunities of work or financially they can be given incentives
3.They can be provided with holidays or picnics or shopping vouchers
4. The organization can use social media to appreciate the employee's contribution.
5. The employees can be provided with some extra benefit like working from home, flexible work timings e.t.c.
6.They should be provided scope to nuture their hobbies or personal likings.
Both financial and nonfinancial rewards should be promoted in the organization. This decision basically depends on the hierarchical position the employees are working. The lower level employees are generally motivated by financial incentives whereas senior level employees appreciate being recognized ie. non financial incentives. If some employee has been able to perform some critical task then he/ she should be provided both financial as well as non financial incentive. The nature of the incentive scheme should depend upon the type of work accomplished.
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