Sticky Notes: Rewarding Star Performers

When you make clear who you are rewarding, how, and why, maybe others will work hard to earn special rewards, too.

Playing favorites is an effective way to hire and retain superstars in the free market for talent. When you make clear who you are rewarding, how, and why, maybe others will work hard to earn special rewards, too. Negotiate with employees as if every single reward and detriment were tied solely to measurable instances of employee performance. Every step of the way:

  • Give every person the chance to meet the basic expectations of his or her job and then the chance to go above and beyond—and to be rewarded accordingly.
  • Look at the discretionary resources within your disposal. Use your one-on-one time; your power over work conditions; scheduling; recognition; exposure to decision-makers; deciding what tasks are assigned to whom, who gets extra training opportunities, where each employee works, and with what coworker; etc.
  • Do whatever you can to extend your discretionary resources and look for every opportunity to use those resources to drive and reward exceptional performance, across the board, but especially with superstars.
  • Create trust and confidence through open communication and transparency, so every employee knows exactly what he or she has to do to earn rewards.
  • Monitor, measure, and document it every step of the way.
  • Don't flinch when it comes to providing the promised rewards and detriments people earn through their choices and behavior.
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