I want to give a couple hundred dollar reward to each of a team that really worked hard on a short term project.  It's a big help our marketing team and the team scrambled to pull it together.  We are getting no raises this year, travel & training are tight.  So, this is one of few things I can actually do for people.

One of the team recently had a verbal warning due to some unprofessional behavior.  Management above me has decided to give rewards to the other team members - excluding this one - until they see a long term improvement in the behavior that generated the warning.  What I thought I was doing was encouraging behavior I want to see.  He did something bad but I'm trying not to let that color all his good work.  He is good technically but says things he should not at times he should not.

Am I wrong in thinking leaving him out of the reward is wrong?  It seems like punishing him again for something unrelated to the original behavior.  If so, any ideas on how to persuade them?  If I'm wrong, can you tell me more as to why?

thaGUma's picture

 This could drive a wedge in a team that you want to reward for ... being a team. If managment can't see that it's a shame mitigate:

1. Inform the errant team member of the decision and let him know that a) the reward will come when the behaviour is shown to be corrected and that b) their reaction to the situation will form part of the evaluation, c) no other member of the team will be made aware of this delay.

2. Hold off rewarding everyone until managment are happy the rogue team member has 'learned their lesson'. Don't tell anyone about it.

3. Cancel the reward.

Horrible thing to happen when we should all be looking for good news and reasons to celebrate.


MsSunshine's picture

So, I can:

  1. Not recognize good behavior.  Make it look like I don't recognize anyone on that sub-team.  (I do have other people and project teams that I am already pushing through rewards for.)  I risk losing their trust in that I recognize and reward good work.
  2. Not stand up for a direct.  Recognize part of the sub-team.  Then I have people wonder why I didn't recognize the other person.  They will ask him and he will tell them.  I believe I have to be honest with him before I tell the rest of the team.  Being too vocal about his opinions of the company got him into this spot.  I am sure he will be vocal about this.  He has already had friends with connections in the company go to HR because he feels like he's being treated badly.  Which could start to snowball...  And again I risk losing the team's trust.
  3. Be secretive.  My boss said I could just give the rewards and not tell anyone.  This seems silly to me.  I believe there are no secrets.  They will talk to each other.  Then I come off as not doing "open and honest communication" which is one of the company goals.  Yet again, I risk losing the teams trust.
  4. Be insubordinate.  Push back again with my boss.  I already expressed my disagreement and was rejected.  Continuing on feels like the morally right thing to do...but...also feels like suicide!  But aren't we supposed to stick up for our staff?  In this case, the team will never know...but I may get fired.
  5. Risk getting HR involved.  Go to HR.  This is probably real suicide!  I like my HR rep and she knows the past history.  But what would I be looking for her to do?  Maybe she helps me evaluate #1 versus #2 given knowing some of the people (but not all).  Maybe my boss is right.  For all I know, it could also be her boss that pushed back. 

My instinct would be to pick #6 and be very clear that I'm okay with my boss's decision and just need help on picking between #1 or #2.  But if she chooses to make an issue of it with my boss, I'm cooked!

ashdenver's picture

I'd go with Thaguma's Option #3 in this case.  And start looking for a new job - internal or external.  Your boss seems like a dillweed.  (Seriously, doesn't he have better things to do than to micromanage what you do with your team's budget?)

stephenbooth_uk's picture

 Would it be possible to push back a little to your boss and say that you understand that they still have concerns about this one direct but you feel that the reward should be to all team members.  Then suggest that this person's reward be held in abeyance pending continued evidence of good behaviour with a set date for when it will be paid, presuming his behaviour continues good.  If they agree then you can explain the situation to him then announce the reward to the team, if he chooses to reveal the specific situation with his share that's up to him.



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ashdenver's picture

Sorry - I'm a bit cranky today and I was reckless with my words above.

Given that you're looking at "a couple hundred dollars" per team member, would you be able to convert that pool of money into a group activity as a Team Building Event, including prizes (rigged in a way so that everyone wins something, though not as much cash as originally intended)?  So if you have five people and $200 each works out to a budget of $1,000, allocate maybe $250 on lunch catered in (or out at a restaurant or a game place like Dave & Busters) and do some games or trivia or partner exercises.  Then have the whole group come up with a "Most Likely To ___" or "Top ___" award for each person in the group.  They have to work together to come up with the most accurate category or most creative, all encompasing title or whatever.  And then each award comes with $150 cash (or gift card) which is your full $1,000 budget. 

If it's not a direct reward for performance in a specific area or task but rather as a team building event, perhaps it will go over better.  (Though you might want to wait a couple of weeks for things to cool down with your boss.)  "Gee boss, I see what you're saying about Behaviour Issue Direct so I got to thinking - if we have this team building afternoon filled with activities designed to focus on behaviour, he'll see his peers modeling the correct behaviour."

Another thought I had would be to break it down to the boss & the direct -- of that $200, the DR in question could only get $50 right now because of this one major blemish but that other $150 is standing by, waiting for continued performance improvement and will be distributed (quietly) over the next X weeks or months.  As time goes by without incident, he earns another portion so that there's a clear correlation between not only the baseline product results (for the first $50) but also the behavioural stuff that goes along with that.  If you want to reward the good behaviour, do just that.  

"DR, there's this pot of $200 with your name on it but this behavioural warning is a fly in the ointment.  We appreciate the production side of things so here's the first $50 or $75 for that side of the equation, however, the remainder of the pot will be contingent on the behavioural aspects of the equation over the next X timeframe."

If the boss gets his way - that you're rewarding the DR for continued & sustained appropriate behavioural conduct - he'll be more inclined to give the go-ahead.  

The DR will get the message that it's not just about productivity results; there's also a corporate culture which he needs to be sensitive toward and there are implications to acting recklessly but he has a chance to recover in that regard.

You get to coach and mentor his "rehabilitation" in the eyes of your boss by actively participating in the turnaround with the DR.

MsSunshine's picture

Hum.  I can't do a team type event because the only money I have is actually in a program that goes directly in a bonus to them.  With budget restrictions, we are totally forbidden from doing any type of team event that the company pays for.  (Yes I essentially have no discretionary budget.)

BUT I hadn't thought about the delayed/postponed idea.  I like that!  Maybe I can get them to agree on me setting very specific goals and dates around the behavior changes.  He'd get the money then.  Then I can honestly say they are getting these bonuses.  He may or may not share the timing part.  But it's not like I'd be singling him out in front of the group! 

I can live with this!

Thanks :^)