The majority of my team is based in the Northeast. To say they are fed up with this winter is, perhaps, the understatement of the year. One team member commented to me, “Mother Nature and I are in a fight. She’s winning.” The latest snow storm and aftermath is often the lead topic on our team calls every week. I read up on some local US news coverage of the storms, which also had the inevitable discussion about global warming in the face of one of the worst winters ever.
Nearly all of those articles point out, “It’s weather, not climate.” What’s the difference? Weather is immediate. It’s what’s happening outside your window right now. Climate is long-term trends. It’s what’s happening across the globe. Sure, the Northeast U.S. is suffering through one of the coldest, snowiest winters in years, but the overall climate trend is for on average warmer temperatures year-round. And while New England might be suffering in the cold now, Europe suffered through a terrible, hot summer last year.
Why am I discussing weather and climate in a compensation-focused blog? Because the difference between weather and climate reminded me of the difference between incentives and employee recognition. Incentives are immediate and focused on short-term goals and fast results. Strategic recognition programs are focused on the long-term business goals and reinforcing the underlying behaviors necessary to achieve those strategic objectives and goals.
Make no mistake – like weather and climate, both incentives and recognition programs serve important roles. But today’s weather shouldn’t color our expectations of long-term climate trends. And today’s incentive program shouldn’t substitute for long-term recognition goals.
As illustrated in the chart above, think about when a short-term contest achieves a tactical goal or when a long-term recognition program is needed to achieve strategic goals.
Do you use incentives or recognition or a blend of both?
As Globoforce’s Head of Strategic Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world. His articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin, Montreal and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @globoforce.