Award or Reward?

I loved getting awards. (Notice the use of the past tense here.) I used awards as a carrot to get me to do the work needed to achieve the particular level or award status. In a sales position, awards are often used to entice the salesperson to do more work. If you’re a recognition junkie, getting the award is your fix and you’ll do anything to get it.

I attended a company awards function today and saw people I’ve trained walk across the stage to receive recognition for their production last year. It’s gratifying as a trainer to see people who attended your classes and did what you told them to do receive recognition. (Perhaps I’m living  vicariously through those award winners.) The experience caused me to consider whether awards and training have anything to do with one another (beyond the proud moment).

Most of the award winners, if asked, will not cite their training as the reason for their success. Why is that?

I regularly teach real estate agents about the behaviors and activity they need to perform in order to reach their goal(s). For some people, the external measurement is what propels them to do the work needed to realize their goals. The goal is embodied in the external recognition of their work. I understand this very well. I used a sales award to focus my activity as a new real estate agent. When I achieved that goal, I knew I had also achieved my financial and business goals. They went hand in hand. With no prior experience in sales, the training I received played an important role in my achievements.

Training can help people understand their motivations and clarify their goals. Certifications and designations may be the end result of completing a training program that will ultimately lead participants to more business, advancement in their careers, and/or some particular recognition. Perhaps the content of the training serves to give them an advantage. Just by knowing something may give the participant the ability to do their work more efficiently or effectively.

Award IllustrationIn real estate specifically, we train agents to become better at what they do by teaching them the skills and behaviors necessary for a successful career. We don’t usually encourage agents to make an award their goal, but rather treat it as a by-product of the activity the agent must perform to achieve their goals. Most times we trainers don’t even discuss awards in the context of a class.

Goals can be different for different people. This is especially true in sales professions. Some may have a monetary amount as their goal (I need to earn X this year) and others may decide their goal should be an experience or object (a cruise for the family or a new car). It’s helpful to understand the people in the training class to determine whether using award levels as goals would be a significant enough reward for the students. There may be some for whom this is a positive benchmark for their activity.

I’ve been focussing on large, annual goals here. There’s a place for more immediate measurements of activity and achieving interim goals. If you’re teaching the same group of people over a span of weeks or months, wouldn’t it make sense to recognize them for achieving weekly or monthly goals? I think it does. The hope is that by setting small, weekly or monthly goals, the students will focus on taking the steps needed each day to achieve them. We teach our students an important lesson by doing this. We give them the tools to succeed in whatever they choose to do.

Awards ceremonies are fun, exciting events. They don’t tell us a lot about what it took for those receiving the awards to achieve the award. I think it’s training’s job to help our students be able to analyze their activity and measure their progress toward their goal. The award at the end is icing on the cake. The satisfaction from seeing my students pick up their awards comes from knowing that I did what I could to help them get to this point. Congratulations to all!

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