Nothing, perhaps, is more lasting than a non- monetary reward, recognition or appreciation, for any good work done. Financial and material rewards have a shelf life -- good, till they get exhausted. The impermanence of material rewards and benefits yields no enthusiasm on a long term basis. The quantification of success through amassment of personal wealth/worth, ultimately creates more anxiety and pain, than comfort and relief.
There arises in the lives of highly successful people, a time, when they descend into serious self-evaluation and a critical introspection, of what they gained and what they lost, in the quest of the material wellbeing. If making profits and creating a humungous increase in shareholder value, out of every business venture becomes a habit, then the laws of diminishing utility begin to dawn upon the successful person, which in turn ignites in them, the fire that awakens, and the inner spiritual person. The prospect of making more and still higher profits fails to meet the test of creating enough combustion within, for either internal drive or motivation -- instead of the more contribution to the enhancement of their net-worth becoming the instigator of action, successful people reckon to their own benefit of peace and comfort, that spending money (material profits) in the eradication of polio is a better purpose to serve and live for; the related action thence is their major source of inspiration. Bill Gates (Melinda Foundation) is a case in point. Successful persons very quickly recognise the need for such type of non-material encouragement to keep them going in their pursuits. A pat on the back is also a non-material reward. Intelligent managers/leaders like the successful businessman learn and realise the value of this, and employ it in their everyday work traits.
In my experience, I have seen that, the joys of receiving a pay rise or even promotion are short lived. I have had colleagues, who were rewarded substantially and adequately, yet after a few weeks, they used to back to their normal self of blaming, self- pitying and being in a state of anxiety and depression.
The euphoria of a "few dollars more" has the life of a rainbow; it appears after showers (hard work) as a ray of hope, and disappears, much before one has either finished counting its colours or spent time in its admiration. It is the binding duty and responsibility of a supervisor to impart this thought to the youngsters and junior colleagues in the organisation that there is greater satisfaction in the pursuit of non-material rewards, in the long run; admittedly it is not to suggest that they must become saints. Lavish Lifestyles at the cost to principles of graceful conduct is not a path to choose.
The human factor, which, unfortunately, is amiss in today's business world, is the root cause of all economic and social ills of the society. Material wellbeing gives comfort, but spiritual wellbeing leads to contentment and felicity.
Appreciation procures new reinforcements to inter personal relationships. It is inexpensive to say, well done. But very few say it. Look around in your organisation, what pays long term dividends, a threat or a honey dipped command. The common decency, which has become so uncommon, is all one needs as a manager to motivate the staff for achieving the stated corporate purposes, objectives or goals. A simple nudge or tap on the shoulder of the supervised does wonders. A little wind kindles, much puts out the fire.
In view and since I have consciously practiced it, a pat on the back is the noblest weapon in the armory of the leader to be used for inspiration. This attitude comes of will; it surely cannot be had for mere theatrics of appearance and gear. If it is not well intentioned and genuine, it unmasks at the speed of lightning.
Those managers who shy away or are reticent, either by nature or by deliberate choice, in expressing appreciation, mistakenly believe that their aloofness would render to them more power, leading to the creation of an aura, where colleagues can be frightened to work harder and better. Sadly such approach is on the edifice of misjudgment of thought. Silence and indifference by the supervisor is actually an act of gross humiliation. Some team members work harder than others, and yet fail to get the nod of approval. This happens when the leader is stingy and miserly even in the space of non-material rewards.
No manager should wait for resignation to arrive and land at their desk; instead there should be proactive engagement with staff -- a small talk in the corridors, like, how's your family? how are your children doing at school? or even better, convey my best wishes either parents or family … such informal interactive session of the shortest duration serves as a catalyst for enhanced contribution towards collective performance.
If it is not a put on or either engineered, the public display of affection towards colleagues can be highly motivating. It needs to be done infrequently, and not as matter of habit or as per a schedule, nor it should become predictable. It is in the unpredictability of such moves that there is lasting and impactful inspiration to do more.
Never should one pretend to appreciate, if the heart is breeding ill-will, for it would expose such a manager in no time. Just by holding the arm of a colleague (due consideration for gender issues, here and also the cultural demands), the manager makes excellence in others, as his own. The sense of touch conveys that the manager, is after all, a human too, with warm blood running in his veins.
Regrettably, I have been witness to appreciation hurled at colleagues, where the supply of superlatives would run dry, and in the next moment, once the glorified individual is out of sight, the same supervisor would launch and slide an avalanche of all the possible negative characteristics the individual has or is perceived to have!!! Duplicity adopted in expediency. In fact I have heard remarks like, "made a good fool of him/her; do you think he/she really believed my words," Idiots. Sounds like a politician who is surprised that he is believed, when in factuality, he himself doesn't believe in.
Regardless of amazing alternation in human behaviour, I strongly believe, that, a pat on the back is, a little spark that can usher a flaming and blazing performance.
The writer is a senior banker