Sweaty Hugs Blog #5 Positive Rewards

June 20, 2017

From an old garden gnome to a rugby boot passed down through the generations, the least significant looking awards can sometimes have the most significant impact on your team. Personal team rewards can be the difference between just winning a game to having a winning team.

What’s the Meaning Behind It?

When I was living in the states I joined a fitness movement who had what they called ‘the positivity award’. The award itself was a beat-up old rowing handle from the founders, but the meaning behind it was so much more as it was awarded to individuals who do all of the following:

  • Have a positive vibe and spread it;
  • Push others to achieve things they never thought they could;
  • Understand and exude the values of the team;
  • Are an integral part of the team;
  • Make others smile;
  • Just show up and kick ass.

This award became not only a motivator to win but it encouraged the recipient to do even better as he or she was now highlighted amongst the group.

What It Feels Like to Win

I watched team members win this award and I wanted to know what it meant to them as to an outsider all it was an old rowing oar. I spoke to one winner, known affectionately by the team as Danimal. He said that

It meant that I was doing something right…. also made me realize something—I need to work even harder. No longer was I working for myself. I now had others looking up to me or hoping for help in some way. The award solidified me having more motivation to work for a stronger, happier, dedicated team, all running in one rhythm toward the next challenge.”

It was a month after I interviewed Dan that I had the honor of receiving the positivity award myself, something I never expected. At my first training session a year ago I saw someone win the award and from that moment I wanted to win it. But I never thought I would as the people who have won it are some of the most amazing human beings I have ever met and everyone knew who they were. They all just had this presence about them. I was so honored and overwhelmed to know that I was viewed in the same way as these people I had looked up to in my team. I thought that because I was a foreigner in this city, that sometimes I missed a training session and had only been a part of the team for a year I wouldn’t be viewed in that way. But being awarded this meant that I had becomes a true member of the team.

A Sense of Belonging

As I said in my first Sweaty Hugs blog, accountability is a significant motivator, but because of real life, some people can’t make every training session or game. However, that doesn’t make them less of a member or less important than the people who do. Which is why having end of year awards or an item that gets passed from team member to member every season allows those individuals to feel recognized and valued within the team. It’s all about supporting that sense of belonging by recognizing that people are an integral part of the team’s success.

Man of the match. Most valuable player. These are just titles but what you get for them means so much more and make the difference between a good team and a great team. Every member is important, but sometimes it’s hard to see that when you are one of many. So individual recognition for your contributions goes a long way in making your teammates feel valued.

Even my plans for the weekend exude this message, I am volunteering at Tough Mudder. A race that I have done and know how grueling it can be, yet the reward at the end, a cold pint and a headband, mean so much. A headband is such a small item but the meaning behind it is so much more (and gives you endless bragging rights in the office). So if your team doesn’t put too much emphasis or thought into personal awards, then take a moment and think about the impact and meaning they could have to your team. Then maybe you might realize how valuable they can be. 


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