Don’t Be a Pointy Haired Boss: Dilbert’s Lesson on Meaningful Rewards

May 21, 2013 Darcy Jacobsen

Comic Bullet PointA few weeks ago I wrote about how important it is that we offer awards that have some substantive value to them, in order to “put our money where our mouths are” and ensure proportion and fairness.

A few weeks before that, I wrote about how mistaking “pointsification” for gamification could backfire on employers, and how important it is that we be thoughtful when we gamify a solution, and not get caught up in bells, whistles, and leaderboards.

Ordinarily I don’t get all self-referential, but when I saw the Dilbert comic below from this Sunday’s paper, I was pretty tickled at how it segued with those two posts. I wanted to give Scott Adams a high five. (Click the image to see it larger.)

Comic Strip

© DILBERT 2013 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

Not only does Adams reference the current problems with outdated performance reviews, but he also gets right to the heart of the need for meaningful employee recognition and reward.  Adopting any solution simply because it is trendy is a grave error that will likely backfire on a company.

Now don’t get me wrong. Gamification has its place. I wrote all about that here.  But unfortunately, too many people think that just adding badges, ribbons and leaderboards are gamification. The last thing anyone wants to do is sound like Dilbert’s Pointy Haired Boss!

It is critical that we never lose sight of what we really want to do when we seek to improve performance management and recognition—make employees feel valued and influence their behavior for the better.


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