Food for Thought V5: Milestones not the be and end all

A few days ago I was watching Ashton Agar as he approached one of the great milestones in sport, a century (100 runs) in his first-ever match at the elite level, in circumstances that meant it would be unique in a game that has been played for over a century.  He did not make that milestone.  He, the commentators and most watching were left at best flat and at worst distraught.  It got me thinking about how much pressure we can create around milestones and how that can change our behaviour as cricket batsmen often do as they approach a century.

I did a little research and found this whitepaper entitled “Recognize Achievements, Not Just Anniversaries”. The authors recommend focusing on these five components of recognition:


  1. “Change the frequency of your milestone acknowledgement” – Gen Y can’t imagine ten and twenty-year tenures so think about 6, 12 and 18 months instead!

  2. “Provide meaningful reward choice” – Not everyone wants a gold watch.

  3. “Leverage the power of accumulation” – People like goals and accumulating recognition towards a major reward can be fulfilling for many.

  4. “Incorporate points-based, manager-to-employee and peer-to-peer recognition” – Allow accumulation of points towards rewards from a multitude of activities.

  5. “Tap into more motivational drives” – Psychology has come a long way and we now know a lot about how different kinds of people are motivated. We should tap into this knowledge in our program design.

Thus the authors advocate using within organisations what is already occurring in most sports.  A sports career is not judged on only a few milestones being achieved.  It is judged on a myriad of statistics that allows many more great players to be appreciated for different elements of their game.  It reminds us we have many strong people in organisations that make things happen behind the scenes who are not necessarily identified for the leaders that they are.  I am sure many of them reside in the risk profession!