Our lives are filled with rituals. There are things that we do on a daily basis that take on a ritualistic feel – the way we care for ourselves, the meals we eat, the daily commutes we make, etc.
Evaluating one’s experiences can be a type of ritual, a traditional exercise that marks the conclusion of an experience. For me personally, an experience doesn’t have a sense of closure until I’ve taken a moment to reflect and evaluate what took place.
Closure helps people to move forward, to take the energy that is being exerted toward one experience and move on to something else. A lack of closure can leave a group of people hanging. It makes one feel like things are unresolved or unfinished. A lack of closure can wear a person out.
That’s why the third perspective of evaluating an experience, reward, is so powerful. It helps to bring closure to an experience. One of the things I mentioned in a previous post is that an event is not over until everything is put away. While this is directed at all of the materials and supplies that were used, I think there is an element of relational closure that needs to occur as well.
Basically, reward is about follow-up. It can be as simple as a thank you and as elaborate as a promotion. The perspective of reward is a process of evaluation that requires an action.
· Write a note of thanks to someone who did something right.
· Take time to gather the people who did something successful to celebrate (party!).
· Spend time acknowledging the contribution of others.
· Position people to better use their strengths for the next time or for a similar experience.
The perspective of reward also includes the importance of offering feedback, both positive and negative. Yes, I said negative. Think about it. If my greatest desire as a leader is for someone to do their best, and that is his or her desire as well, then we need to be honest about one’s contribution. It is a gift to be able to give someone honest feedback about his or her efforts in a safe and caring environment. And a gift is a type of reward.
· Who do I need to have a conversation with to tell them what went right or what went wrong?
· What can we celebrate?
· What elements of this experience might I still need to bring to closure?
As with anything, we can go overboard when it comes to rewards. But in my experience, I usually err on the side of too little (and that’s unfortunate).
When I invite leaders to take time evaluating an experience, I want them to engage in this process as soon as the experience is over. Why? Because not only is the experience still fresh in their minds, but evaluating through the perspective of reward requires a certain window of time.
If you are going to reward people for their efforts and celebrate those events that were successful, make sure they are:
a) personal – not a generic thank you that everyone gets.
b) timely – in close proximity to when the success occurred.
c) meaningful – something that touches them on an emotional level.
For example, one of the best ways of rewarding people that is cost effective and covers all three of these descriptors is pictures. Take a picture of the people involved in or during the experience. Have a caption or message imprinted on the picture and put it in a frame. This is a personal, timely, and meaningful way to capture the moment and express your appreciation.
I’ve discovered that most people get involved and volunteer for putting on activities or events because they want to. They like to use their strengths, their energy, their time in this way. There is an intrinsic reward that comes with their effort. Yet there is something wonderful about the morale of the group, the vibe on a team, and the momentum that is created for the next experience when the leader takes time to reward the individuals and groups that invested themselves in the process of a successful experience.
Have you evaluated your last experience through the lens of reward? Are there people you need to follow-up with?
You can download the Experience Evaluation Form for free.