In the Workplace It Should Take More Than Just Showing Up to Earn Rewards

On the wall next to the credit union teller was a “certificate of completion” for a recently attended training.

It got me thinking what the teller is now capable of doing that she wasn’t capable of before.

I should have asked.

I would have asked had I saw this news story about a veteran National Football League linebacker, James Harrison, who is returning trophies presented to his two sons, six and eight years old, because they were “participation trophies.”

Harrison said, “While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them til [sic] the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy,” Harrison exclaimed.

Like this professional athlete’s sons I began to wonder whether this teller, and the millions of other employees, who sit through corporate training programs and have really earned that certificate?

Did they had to demonstrate any new competency with what they learned, or did they simply have to sit for the required hours to “earn” their “certificate of completion?”

Does an increase in salary come with that certificate?

With all the complaints about the entitlement mentality and a lack of workplace performance etiquette of some in the younger generation in the workforce, Harrison’s parenting approach should be welcomed.

Again, today, I heard a business owner complain about a “millenial’s” model of the world when it comes to behavior in the workplace.

Among business owners’ most regular complaints is the “entitlement mentality” some employees bring to the workplace, expecting the annual raise for just “showing up.”

Maybe a good start would be to begin teaching our youth that just showing up isn’t worthy of a trophy, and sometimes even your best effort won’t get you a one, either.

Please continue the conversation with me by leaving a comment below.

’til next time Communicate With Power!

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8 thoughts on “In the Workplace It Should Take More Than Just Showing Up to Earn Rewards

  1. June Jewell says:

    Skip – I could not agree more. I believe that there needs to be more accountability in the workforce and with our kids. Rewards, including trophies, are not really special unless they are in recognition of a significant accomplishment. If every Olympian got a medal just for showing up, the medals wouldn’t mean as much. Great post!

  2. Annette Panek says:

    I totally agree, Skip. I’ve seen too many coworkers in my time who expect a six-figure salary and a corner office just for showing up to work. I’ve also seen a total lack of work ethic: people surfing the Web, making personal phone calls all day long, etc. Unfortunately, many of them are able to fool their supervisors into thinking they are good workers who deserve a raise.
    I worked at one company where my friend and I did all the work and the others were allowed to slack off and were not held accountable to deliver on their tasks. My friend and I were not of the same race nor religion as the others. Favoritism at its worst.
    The only way things will change is if managers and supervisors take an active role in the day-to-day work of their area, rather than sit behind a desk all day and believe the hype of their worst employees.

  3. Skip Weisman says:

    June & Annette,
    Thanks for the positive reinforcement of my position here.

    The real problem with the issues you both raise are that the old way of managing performance in the workplace is flawed.

    In the historic way of managing performance people were managed around “showing up.” That’s the concept behind the hourly wage. You get paid by the hour for showing up, basically. In that model there are no metrics beyond the hours on the clock to measure against.

    In working with my clients I help them create metrics for employees roles that are measurable. In my ultimate work environment I don’t care if an employee ever shows up on-site as long as those metrics are met, legally and ethically, and all internal and external customers are served at a high level.

    Anyway, businesses does need to become more like athletic teams and begin basing employee compensation and bonuses (rewards) based on performance metrics and not just time in the seat at a desk.

    Thanks for being inspired to leave a comment!

  4. Lisa says:

    Again, you’ve hit it on the head. I am a parent to two little leaguers and am happy that most of the age groups in our league only are rewarded for 1st/2nd/3rd place (for the season). It drove me crazy in younger years when those danged medals and trophies came out…I’d joke that they could at least position them as “Most improved”, “Best team spirit”, even “Best snack” (another bee in my bonnet for another day). In corporate terms, there is an entitlement epidemic where associates seem to approach work with the ‘be happy I showed up’ attitude, seemingly unaware of the very large number of people standing in line for a job. Unfortunately, as I’ve seen, many people in management positions not only fail to eradicate the plague, but have been stricken by it as well, leading the entire organization to failing to produce quality of product and service. Instead of lowering expectations to adjust for the current societal shifts in expectations, how about boldly demanding that associates actually stretch, reach, and exert themselves. Corporate America, heal thyself. And to James Harrison, I say “KUDOS”.

  5. Maria says:

    As a mother of two young children attending a variety of sports programs, I am finding myself having to explain this new and confusing rewarding process to my kids (where everyone gets a medal).

    My son has special needs and will likely never win a trophy in sports, but when he had a meltdown over some kids getting trophies in his karate class while he only got a medal, whereas in the previous session he also got trophies, it made me wonder if this makes sense at all.

    The instructors never explained the difference to the kids and they were all expecting trophies (trophies were meant for first 3, while the medals for the rest.)

    My son still has his trophies but they don’t give him an sense of accomplishment and just plays with them as toys. This rewarding everyone with the completion medal or trophy also makes me feel like they don’t want to put the effort into observing our kids and making personal assessments of their achievements.

    As Lisa mentioned above, there could be medals for acknowledging team spirit, growth, effort, and even attendance if that is what they wanted to focus on. But these would be unique achievements, not for everyone. This is also true in the workplace.

    I also run and while getting a medal after completing a 10K or a half-marathon feels awesome, the first place finishes get acknowledged very differently in addition to the medal. There is a clear definition over my achievement compared to theirs.

    Even so, I sometimes do feel that a medal for just completing the race is a bit of an overkill.

    In any case, I think we need to refocus our attention on how we acknowledge work and effort both with our kids and in the workplace.

    As you have stated, we need to look at metrics, achievement for rewards and still acknowledge effort, motivation and growth in those who really try (and don’t just show up every day.) The latter category is where my son would fit most of the time; he will likely never win first place, but he sure could be acknowledged for learning and growing in spite of his challenges. 🙂

  6. Skip Weisman says:

    Thank you for sharing your personal story and experience, and for reinforcing the concept of rewarding real achievements beyond “showing up.”

    You make a great point about rewarding and recognizing the learning and growth from an experience and finding ways to provide that. The idea is to reinforce the behavior we want to be repeated.

    Thanks for being inspired to leave a comment, please come back again.

  7. A. K. M. Suzaur Rahman says:

    Well, hourly wage don’t apply. We need to develop executive/job/position specific measurement scale to calculate each position effectiveness and efficiency. And also level of professional intelligence, motivation along with loyalty should also be measured. Why evaluation is a annual process with few preformed outdated table or score. Does this really help staffs to do spectacularly well after the very next day of evaluation? So should we focus towards result oriented tools, mechanisms now?

    Dr. Suzaur

  8. Skip Weisman says:

    Dr. Suzaur,
    Thanks for your comments and questions here.
    Your question, “Why evaluation is a annual process with few preformed outdated table or score. Does this really help staffs to do spectacularly well after the very next day of evaluation?”

    The reason is two fold, either, those creating and implementing the system either don’t understand the true purpose of the performance review process or don’t want to address the real issues and would prefer to maintain status quo for fear of upsetting people. Ironically, the fear of upsetting people with real quantifiable feedback actually causes them to fulfill that prophecy they are trying to avoid because the lack of specific, quantifiable, meaasurable feedback ends up upsetting people they’re trying not to upset.

    The real issue, I believe, is the fact that most company leaders, especially in small business, don’t truly understand the purpose of a performance review process, which is solely to “improve individual and organizational performance” so the process focuses on just providing feedback on negative performance and behaviors, wishes and hopes someone changes, and rarely do because there isn’t a mutually agreeable path forward.

    Thanks for adding to the conversation here.

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