With the turmoil of the pandemic and political unrest, you may be seeing resentment creep into your team. Under stress, differences of all sorts may be more common, even with many teams still working remotely. And once resentment is established, it’s extraordinarily difficult to unroot it. Fortunately, a carefully crafted approach can reduce this risk.
There is a Japanese proverb which states, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” During these times, you may naturally rely heavily on your top performers, burdening them with the most work and highest expectations. If you want your top performers to resent management and lower performers for not pulling their weight, this is the course of action for you. If not, keep reading!
Don’t focus your energy solely on your high performers. Resentment is a two-way street. Your top performers can resent your low performers and your low performers can resent your high performers as well as management. One way this happens is by creating lofty projections for your team based on your high performers’ work. As you know, just because your high performers work at a certain level, it doesn’t mean the rest of the team is able to work at that level.
Here are a few ideas on how you can encourage your team to meet expectations with minimal risk of resentment.
Giving performance-based rewards is nothing new or novel. Businesses award them at the end of the year or other specified time period. Although effectiveness is openly debated, there is one issue that stands out to me. Bonuses that constitute a large part of a person’s compensation introduces motivation to game the system.
Did you know there is a growing body of research that suggests awarding or allocated a set bonus upfront may produce better results?
This has been successful because the motivation created by the threat of losing all or a significant portion of a predetermined amount is greater than the prospect of future gain. This is one of the reasons insurance companies can exist. For many, the threat of losing a large sum of money at some point justifies paying an insurance company much more than they’re likely to ever get in return.
If taking away your employee’s bonus seems too harsh, you can modify the concept. Allocating a specified amount upfront then allocating an amount based on performance that is paid later can be perceived as a valid and fair approach.
Here are a few things you can do to proactively avoid resentment:
Stay in tune with your high performers. Watch for changes in behavior like isolation and disengagement. If you sense something is wrong, talk to them. Use your leadership courage to find out what is causing their unhappiness. Losing them at this time could have a negative effect on your business results.
Resist increasing your high performers’ workload. Instead ask them to mentor less experienced lower performers. This can prevent their isolation, increase their engagement, and improve the team’s efficiency through knowledge sharing. Furthermore, it’s a great exercise to fortify the team spirit.
Have your team leaders work with other employees to create a team-wide performance plan that meets the stated goals. This creates buy-in, enables team-accountability and shows your trust in the team.
It’s important to hold one-on-one meetings to prepare teams for busy times of the year. During these meetings, pay particular attention to lower-performers. The goal is to understand their motivators and use that information to help them when they appear disengaged. Additionally, drive home your message that they’re an integral part of the team and the goal cannot be reached without their contributions.
If you’d like to discuss tactics you can employ to ensure good employee relations throughout the year, even during a pandemic, contact me.