Breath of Clarity

Comment #1: Worker Recognition

Original Post by Alex Johnsen:

It is a known fact that people respond to incentives. Most people go to work because they are incentivized to earn a paycheck so that they can keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Likewise, most people don’t commit terrible crimes for fear of going to jail. Sure, there might be more factors at play in these scenarios, but in the most basic sense, humans react well to both positive and negative incentives. When implementing an incentive program at work, the goal should be to add value to both the company AND the employee. Take a bonus system for example, if the employee can earn X amount for every new customer they bring in, the employee benefits in the form of a monetary reward while the company benefits from additional growth. However, incentives like this should not replace a traditional, secure paycheck. By doing so, employees might feel obligated to work long hours or behave unethically just to bring in new clients. With this approach, their focus shifts from adding value to the company and themselves, to just adding value to themselves.

Worker recognition is an important aspect of being a leader. Like everything else, it is important to understand your employees first before providing recognition. Some people are more introverted and don’t like the spotlight, while others might need more continuous reassurance and validation. Either way, when providing recognition, the sentiment should be genuine and come from the heart (Don’t Say You n.d., 4:44). Similarly, body language, or non-verbal communication, is also key to providing genuine recognition (Don’t Say You n.d., 4:04).

By and large, positive feedback and constructive feedback should be given directly to the employee and in a private setting. No one wants to be seen as either a “teacher’s pet” or inept in front of their peers and colleagues. Certainly, there are some situations where giving a brief accolade in front of a group or company is appropriate, but constructive feedback should never be given in this setting. Remember to use the words, “I noticed” and “I wondered” when giving either positive or constructive feedback (Baldridge n.d., 3:26).


Baldridge, Joy. Year n.d. “Difficult Conversations Made Easy.” TEDxUCCI. YouTube. April 11, 2018. Video, 14:49.

Don’t Say You Video edited. n.d. Accessed October 20, 2021. Module 6, Environmental Leadership.

My Comment:

Hi Alex,

Great point that it is important for the employee to feel as though he/she is developing from his/her focused pursuit of incentives. That said, a key aspect of the employee development plan that we will completing is to illustrate the connect between the employee’s personal growth and achieving the company goal. It’s interesting that the content of the incentive in itself contributes to making the employee feel valued.

There are many jobs that operate with a commission-only structure. I have noticed that these jobs highlight the opportunity to have uncapped paychecks as more worth it than a sense of security. Employers for these positions also emphasize the opportunity for personal growth as a reason to jump aboard the team because the team members who take care of their health the best end up making the most money. These positions assign a lot of responsibility to the team members. However, it also presents the challenge of burnout as employees are encouraged to dive into the work. With all things considered, do you feel as though zero companies should have commission-only structures? One option that I thought of it that employees should get to choose whether they want a base salary with lower commission, a commission-only structure, or only a base salary. However, would everyone not being on the same payment plan interfere with group camaraderie?