Rewarding Others: Personal Currencies

One of the challenges many managers face is determining how to engage, motivate and reward their workforce. While financial incentives do have a part to play, they often are not enough to keep employees “happy” with their work.

Not long ago I was discussing this topic with colleagues and the phrase “personal currency” came up. The theory behind personal currency is that each of us place a high value on different things in our work lives. Those things we value most are our currency. For example, some individuals find the most value from monetary rewards or advancement opportunities. Others covet flexibility of schedule or autonomy in their work. Still others place a high value on skill development or involvement in a variety of projects. The list of personal currencies can go on and on.

The challenge for us as managers is discovering what our peoples’ personal currencies are. This isn’t a one-size fits all approach to incentives. What one staff member may value, another may find trivial. The key is the relationship you have with your staff. What do you know about each of your staff members? When are those moments when you feel someone on your team is truly engaged and energized by what they are doing? What questions can you ask that may provide insight into someone’s personal currency?

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