Alternative Reward Systems for Top Performing Team Members

The greatest gift one could receive is the gift of growth. You could make a lot of money, live in mansions, and own an entourage of fancy cars, but all the material things will lose their significance when you get stuck in a rut. Lack of growth or growth opportunities makes every second seem longer than the last, and soon you are slapping yourself awake to live yet another day. You know that it does not need to be this way.

As a door to door salesman, we had daily and weekly cash prizes for remarkable sales performances, and it felt great to win them. However, my competitive juices would truly get flowing when the winning prize was getting to spend a day with the CEO of the company, attend a leadership training – anything that would improve my capabilities rather than just my (then) fiscal situation.

Not just me, there was a subset of the sales or non-sales team who could discover an extra gear when the prizes were beyond cash. When I look at the careers of those people today, they went on to do some fantastic things, professionally and personally. They are executives in companies, fitness gurus, entrepreneurs, educators, and so much more. Over time I realized that these were the people a company should retain because they can be their most lucrative assets.

Therefore, when I turned entrepreneur, I continued with the tradition of mixing cash prizes with noncash prizes. I’d get excited about finding books, events, experiences, etc. that would make a lasting impact on the receiver. It had to be something not easily forgotten, unlike a cash prize, which eventually loses its luster as our wants & needs change.

I vividly remember driving 2 team leaders who had won a weeklong contest to San Marcos with me. They thought I was taking them out for a day of drinking, but I had promised them an experience they would not forget. I drove them out to an airfield in the middle of nowhere, got them suited up, and the 3 of us jumped out of a plane flying at 15,000 feet! What I did not know then was that one of them had never been in a plane before! Even now, years later, I hear about how that jump left a profound impact on their lives.

I had heard about the powerful outcomes of attending Tony’s seminars since 2005. However, it took me 10 years to save enough money so that I could sit in the front rows of Tony Robbins’ Unleash The Power Within workshop and experience the force of nature called Tony Robbins. It was everything that I had thought it was, and in many ways, it was so much more. Calling that workshop a life-altering experience is a gross understatement.

As the 4-day event wound to a close, I felt the need to share this experience with my closest friends and family. However, I did not want them to wait another 10 years to get the opportunity to see Tony. I wanted to send my loved ones to this concert of life, but considering the cost of the tickets, I could only afford to send 1 or 2 people at best.

Then, out of the blue, Tony announced an offer, something that shocked even the agent who had sold me my ticket. It was a buy-1-ticket-and-get-2-tickets-free-tickets to his next UPW event. While I had still not figured out how I would afford it, but with my wishes answered, I bought 2 sets of 3 tickets. I wanted to give 1 set of tickets to my family at home and the other for my family at work.

I did not tell anyone about my plans until I was back at the office. I shared my takeaways from the event through a short presentation I had made for the team. I shared videos and photos from the event, which got my team excited about this event. When their energy was at a peak, I announced that I would give away 3 individuals an all-expenses-paid trip to see Tony Robbins in Sydney in September 2020!

There was a burst of excitement in the room as though I had announced that I was giving away the winning answers to Kaun Banega Crorepati. However, I was proud that the set of people I called as my family placed such high value on getting a chance to grow with one of my idols, Tony Robbins.

Then, COVID derailed our plans. The event got canceled as Australia went through a series of lockdowns, and India completely shut its airspace. COVID’s immediate impact on our startup portfolio consumed the entirety of my time, and following up on the status of my tickets was the furthest thing on my mind. If someone had asked a couple of months ago, I would have told them that I had mentally written off the tickets.

But Tony had another surprise for us. He announced that he would hold a virtual UPW for all ticket holders that could not see him due to the shutdowns. The virtual UPW would be complimentary while their tickets would count towards the next UPW event in Australia! I missed this email, but his Indian representatives consistently followed up as they needed the names for this online event.

Initially, I had plans to create a points system to ensure that the list did not become arbitrary. Due to COVID, my goal for points system got shelved, and despite my best efforts, I could not come up with a last-minute plan for these tickets. However, I knew that 6 people stood up for Artha throughout the stringent tests that we have been through in the last 12 months, i.e., since I attended UPW Singapore.

It did not take me long to draw up that list of 6 people; what took me eons longer was deciding the 3 that would get the tickets. I announced the winners just a few moments back. I congratulated them for getting a chance to experience Tony’s powerful & transformational strategies with which they can impact several areas of their lives.

Each one of them ended up a double victor, as not only do they get to see Tony virtually – they also get to experience his energy in person next year in Sydney (yes, Artha will cover their tickets, room, and board!)

The winners are ecstatic, and once they have been through this transformation, they will thank Artha for the rest of their lives. However, this is an essential lesson for any leader – very few people are genuinely motivated by money or the accumulation of “things.” The true warriors in your company are not there for the money; they are there for things that the company does for them that does not show up in their bank account.

It is your job as a leader to find those things and keep fulfilling their needs as a reward.

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