Employee of the Month? No, Employees of the Moment.

by Mike McCarthy

An excited employee said, "I told my boss, ‘If I don’t get Employee of the Month this month, I’m going to quit,’ so he gave it to me. Yay!" 

What’s wrong with this picture? Two things. First, we should never reinforce people for unproductive behaviors, negative talk, or threats (this will only get us more of the same).   

Second, we should set short-term goals or specific actions that will allow the person to earn reinforcement, and to know concretely what to do to earn it.

Instead of singling out one "employee of the month," give your small (non-monetary) comments of recognition frequently to "employees of the moment" for their productive work and their positive comments.

Give your positive attention when positive actions are demonstrated or goals are achieved – and ONLY then.