November 23, 2016

Leadership Insight: Getting to Know Those You Lead

Leadership Insight:  Getting to Know Those You Lead

Early in my career, I learned a valuable lesson about many of the dynamics involved with leading and motivating individuals that are part of a team.  I was in a leadership role and managed a team of nine team members who were all consultants for an IT consulting firm.  These individuals were spread out across the US and stayed consistently busy and fully utilized which is always a good thing in a consulting organization.

It was time to hand out stock and our equity awards as part of our compensation package.  In many organizations, a manager would take the pool of stock options and the balance of the bonus pool and spread it like peanut butter across the team.  Because both compensation benefits did not have an unlimited balance, I decided to get to know my team a little better.  What motivated them?  Was it flex time, stock options, or a bonus at the end of the year?  Was it all three?  I had some idea, I thought, but I was not sure.

Motivation differs amongst employees

Company Stock Options

The discussion that I had with each of them was very insightful.  Some were not motivated at all by a bonus at the end of the year; these consultants were in their role for the long term, so some of the individuals were more motivated by stock.  Their decision was a good one for them because the company was eventually sold and the stock was worth something.  I know this is not always the case but in this case, it worked out well.

Cash Bonuses

Others on the team were motivated by the bonus and made no bones about it.  One individual mentioned to me that stock options do not pay the bills, but that the bonus at the end of the year does.  Given this new found information, I made the decision to provide this high-performer a cash bonus at the end of the year and hold back on stock options.  In this case, I could give more options to those who wanted them.

As a leader, there are many different challenges we are faced with.  One of those is how to mentor and motivate the individuals that you are tasked with leading.  As a leader, get to know your team members on a personal level.  Learn what motivates them and what their career intentions are.  For instance, if you can hand out equity awards or recommend cash bonuses, you will have a better idea on how to allocate those awards.  By having this information, you are well positioned to make a greater impact on those individuals’ productivity and motivation with ultimately positively affects the bottom line of the organization you work for.

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