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Face The Challenge - Sample Section, Chapter 15

Chapter Fifteen - Rewards and Penalties

"Rewards and Penalties" establishes guidelines for supervising constructive employee discipline programs and directing the Leader's behavior with respect to evaluating, rewarding, and disciplining his or her employees and correcting their performance; emphasizing the benefits that improved supervisory practices and constructive employee discipline programs can have on overall employee morale.



15.1 Rewards and Penalties.  Without exception, Leaders must reward successful employees and redirect the efforts of those who fail so as to more efficiently pursue the organization's objectives.  For when satisfactory performance is not meaningfully rewarded or there is little or no penalty for failure, operational output will most likely parallel the unsatisfactory, mediocre mishmash that often characterizes governmental agencies, where substandard performance is shielded by civil-service protections that all but guarantee life-time employment regardless of an individual's actual proficiency level (Odiorne, HMTH p17).  Incentives, operating policies, and the Leader's directives must also be closely correlated to ensure that all Subordinates are working in the best interests of the organization and to firmly persuade them to get with the program if they are not.  And as employees will naturally gravitate toward those behaviors that are rewarded, such behaviors must be reasonably capable of bringing about the desired cause-and-effect outcome.  For instance, consider the stimulus-response dichotomy between the desired and rewarded behavior when President Nixon tossed Checkers a biscuit each time the dog chewed on the carpet in the oval office.  Additionally: recognition, praise, rewards, or penalties must always be in direct proportion to the Subordinate's accomplishment or offending behavior.  If not, the Leader's effusive praise or profuse condemnation will alienate the receiver, any witnesses, and all those who become aware of such occurrences.  For awards that are in greater proportion to the actual deed itself actually diminish the value of the same award for more noteworthy accomplishments (e.g., Congressional Medals of Honor being awarded to soldiers who escorted President Lincoln's funeral train, and which were subsequently withdrawn); and a system of punishments that does not achieve an equitable balance between the severity of the offense and the penalty will cause widespread discontent even among non-offenders.  Consequently, rewards or punishments that are either insufficient or extreme compared to the worthiness of the good deed or the reprehensibility of the dastardly act provoke feelings of resentment, contempt, or general antipathy toward the Leader from both the recipients and their co-workers.

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Copyright 2006 by H. Garrett Hayward from Face the Challenge: The Leader's Success Handbook