High-Value Rewards: What’s Good for the Dog is Good for Us, Too

You need to think like a dog, our trainer began, and what they  value. Yes, of course, play, exercise and love, too.  

But there’s more, Ben continued. You need to think about their genetics. You have two working rescue dogs, and your new Rosie, especially, will be anxious if she’s not working.  

Oh, she gets plenty of exercise, I enthused.  

Pause. On Ben’s end.  

Well, he continued, working also means they’re not wandering around your house looking at the four walls. Work means they’re lying down on their beds. They might get up to take a drink, find a bone, and then lie down again.  

Pause. On my end.  

I’ve been giving them treats when lying down, I responded, and it seems to be working. So, I stopped.  

He raised his right eyebrow. So, you’ve worked for decades, yes? Have you stopped getting paid?   

My head hurt. Seriously? Reward the dogs for lying down in their beds — forever and ever?  

Look, he answered, you’ve got sporting dogs, and you need to do more. I promise you; this is the way dogs think. 

So you need to keep up the high-value rewards.  

A common topic with clients is what to do when pay and promotion do not remedy an undercurrent of staff dissatisfaction.   

It’s disheartening because of all the effort that’s gone into the compensation and benefits plan. So is there a high-value reward missing? Hidden like a bone beneath the surface?

Yes, there is.  

When staff members are not aligned with what they deeply value, despite all external appearances of success, they will grumble, mumble, wilt and burn out. 

And you’ll be left wondering why enough wasn’t enough.   

A Hard-Wired Guide for Humans  

While we don’t have a genetic guide for one another, a little curiosity and insight into human motivation will shift stuck situations. The key is that we remove our Be-Like-Me (oh so righteous and judgmental) glasses and replace them with our Not-Like-Me vision.   

Essential Motivator (Temperament) Patterns  

What motivates you and others to show up, invested, engaged and energized to do your best work? 

Insight into this question is critical for your fulfillment and stress management – and your ability to coach and mentor others.

One of the four patterns below (in haiku brevity) is likely the core need that lights you up like a high-value reward. It captures your intrinsic motivation. 

One or several other patterns will likely represent your developed skills — what you do well but with more effort and were it to be the primary focus of your work, you would burn out.

Families, committees, boards and cultures often have a dominant pattern as well. Take a look below. See what might resonate.

Catalyst Pattern: Diplomatic Skill Set

Possibilities for People

✔Harmonious relationships— cultures aligned with personal values —empathetic relationships, authenticity, unity and harmony — talent to facilitate, counsel, champion, involve, inspire and engage in relationships — stressed by insincerity, loss of meaning and integrity

Stabilizer Pattern: Logistical Skill Set

A Stable Place to Contribute and Belong   

✔Structured systems to serve others — Secure and orderly cultures with well-established & supportive norms — Create rules, roles & regulations to preserve & provide for others — Talent to monitor, support, organize and protect systems — Stressed by instability, lack of structure a place to belong, abandonment

Theorist Pattern: Strategic Skill Set

Competence, Knowledge and Self-Control

✔Concepts, ideas, progress & improvement — Autonomous cultures to challenge, debate & reach expert solutions — Solve problems and enigmas — Talent to analyze, invent, research, critique, systematize, invent and design — Stressed by powerlessness, incompetence, lack of knowledge  

Improviser Pattern: Tactical Skill Set

Impact-Centered Contributions in the NOW

✔Pragmatism and freedom to act — Culture with action, spontaneity, stimulation and excitement — Solve immediate problems with grace & dexterity — Efficiency in action with maximum effect & minimum effort — Talent to negotiate, expedite, troubleshoot & seize opportunities — Stressed by constraint, boredom, long-term planning

My husband and I worked with Ben because our best efforts were not yielding the best results. We were exhausted and frankly defeated. We weren’t thinking like our specific type of dog.

Nor were we recognizing and rewarding her specific motivational needs.

Is this happening to you?

Do you have staff who thrive on competence and autonomy mired in structured details? Or conversely, people who thrive on structure in a role that requires constantly thinking outside the box?

When we are in alignment with our high-value needs, work will feed and fulfill us. We will face challenges with renewed energy and motivation.

Who needs your curiosity for high-value rewards today?

It might even be you…

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