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The Midweek Motivator – Mal-Distribution

Years back we did a column around the principle of “performance punishment.” It’s common, unintended, and often the “punisher” has no idea they’re committing it. We see it every day: sports, academia, sales teams and radio talent, among hordes of people…all hoping to be noticed and admired. 

Defined, performance punishment is the unintentional ignoring of high achievers while disproportionately engaging our under-achievers. The ‘C’ student gets twenty bucks for getting an ‘A’. His sibling who banks straight A’s is overlooked; described by a parent or teacher as “being on autopilot and not needing consistent affirmation.” This obsolescent thinking hurts your organization. The morning team that continually bags double-digit shares; a sales veteran who produces 33% of your cluster’s monthly gross, or your oldest daughter Yale-bound, with a 3.97 GPA, simply assumed to be destined for achievement and really not requiring excess praise and celebration. 

When this occurs in a tight-knit environment like a broadcast group, regardless of market size or competitive bar, once the élan’ has passed from your side, you’ll still find success though little-by-little you lose the edge as performance peaks, and key people gradually drift-away; the proverbial tire with a slow leak. 

What to do? If you intend to push your ‘A’ team to greater heights, you can start with a close look at that “A-team” and commit to more frequent interaction, reflective listening and most of all, overdue praise. 

In a quiet moment over an Espresso, ponder the following soul searching: 

  1. Are you an accidental practitioner of “performance punishment”?

2. Among your top performers, which have you assessed and personally reviewed this year?

3. Have you set any appointments for an informal review this month?

4. What percentage of time do you spend with your less skilled, less experienced people vis-à-vis your top guns? 

5. And, the toughest question? What percentage of your organizational effort can be attributed to each group? This becomes an acid test of “effort” versus “output.

“Your company should never lose someone in the subtle backwash of neglect or inattention. The quiescence can seem “routine” is easily mistaken for a silent scream for acknowledgment and inclusion!