What Are You Rewarding?

To reinforce the behaviours you want to see, you need to be consistent. And this might sometimes mean recognising people when you don’t really want to.


Managing behaviours is simple in theory: to create patterns of behaviour, we need to reward the behaviours that we want to see, and ignore (or sometimes provide consequences for) the behaviours that we don't want to see.

In practice, this becomes difficult, because we tend to let our expectations and egos get in the way of making this happen effectively.

We have the expectation that people know what the right behaviours are and that rewarding simple behaviours sends the wrong message. We want to reward those people who go above and beyond, but we hate to reward people for merely 'doing their job'.

This is a big mistake. Especially if you are trying to establish the right culture within your team.

What do you want to see?

Think about the behaviours that you want to see and write them down in a list.


There will generally be two categories of behaviour that will make your team successful.  Firstly there will be 'Strategic Behaviours'. These are the things that simply help achieve  your operational goals and execute your strategy. They might be things like:

  • Follow up all phone enquiries within 24 hours,

  • Try to upsell every order, or

  • Make three appointments a day with new prospects.

The second category will be ‘Cultural Behaviours’. And these are the things that will help to reinforce your culture or your team brand. They will reflect the way that you engage each other as a team, or the way you deal with clients. They are things such as:

  • Open
    and honest communication

  • Engage in team meetings

  • Go the extra mile, or

  • Always show a positive, can-do attitude.

Reinforcing the Right Behaviours

Here's where things get tricky. We assume that people should know all of these things. We assume that this is 'business as usual', that it’s common sense and our staff should just be doing these things as a matter of course.

But we couldn't be more wrong. Yes, sure, people should be doing them. But the reality is that every culture is unique and is represented by a unique set of behaviours - both strategic and cultural. To create your unique culture, you need to reinforce that unique set of behaviours. Constantly.

If you want to build a culture where those behaviours are automatic, where the culture is completely ingrained, then you need to reward all of those behaviours consistently and often. That's really the only way to make sure that those behaviours form into habits and your culture becomes truly embedded in your every day routines.

So stop waiting for those miraculous moments, and get over your assumptions that you shouldn't recognise people for merely 'doing their job'. And start rewarding the behaviours that you want to see. All of them, all the time.
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