3 min read

Reward Power: Should You Use It To Motivate Team Members?

Reward Power: Should You Use It To Motivate Team Members?

In the organizational context, reward power is one of the key types of power that leaders and managers can use to influence and motivate their team members or employees.

This type of power comes from the ability to offer rewards that employees find valuable, such as promotions, salary increases, praise, and other benefits that make work more enjoyable and fulfilling, thus keeping employees from getting bored.

When a leader can control and distribute these rewards fairly, it significantly yields power and has their influence over their team members.

In this article, we will look at what reward power is, its effectiveness, and if you as a leader should practice it.


Reward Power Definition

From a psychological point, using reward power plays a crucial role in shaping behavior and motivation of employees.

Reward power is one of the primary power bases in an organization, along with coercive power, legitimate power, expert power, and referent power. Each of these power skills influences behavior in different ways, but reward power is particularly effective because it taps into the natural human desire for recognition and achievement.

The power of reward in psychology suggests that people are motivated by positive reinforcement such as incentives or perks. When employees know that their hard work will lead to tangible rewards, they are more likely to put in the effort required to achieve those rewards. This creates a direct link between effort and recognition, driving higher levels of performance and employee engagement. This principle is closely related to the Expectancy Theory of Motivation, which highlights the importance of the connection between effort, performance, and rewards.


Is Reward Power Effective At The Workplace?

When leaders use reward power, they provide clear incentives for their teams. For example, employee incentives, promotions, financial bonuses, and recognition are all powerful motivators. These rewards not only help individual's performance improvement but also contribute to a positive work environment and work culture.

However, the most effective leaders understand that reward power works best when combined with other forms of power. Referent power, for example, is based on personal qualities and relationships that build trust and admiration. A leader who use reward power with referent power can create a work environment where employees feel both valued for their contributions and connected to a leader they respect and admire.

This combination of reward power and referent power can lead to a more engaged and motivated workforce. When employees feel appreciated and have a strong personal connection to their leader, they are more likely to go above and beyond in their roles.

During times of change management, reward power can significantly ease the process and help achieve desired outcomes. For example, when applying Satir's Change Model, leaders can use reward power during the Integration stage for the most effective results. At this point, providing employees with incentives such as bonuses, promotions, and public recognition can help build new behaviors, turn around demotivated employees, boost confidence, and enhance morale. All these ultimately lead to successful adoption of the change.


Reward Power Examples

Reward power is an effective tool in leadership and management, and it includes various forms of rewards that can motivate and influence employees. Here are some reward power examples and and employee incentive ideas:



Promoting employees to higher positions shows you value their hard work and contributions. This use of reward power encourages growth and development.


Positive feedback

Giving constructive feedback to employees is another example for practicing reward power at the workplace. Regularly giving positive and constructive feedback encourages employees to keep up the good work.


Salary increases

Providing financial incentives is a direct use of reward power and showing appreciation. For example, raises or bonuses is a great way to recognize and reward employees' hard work and achievements.


Recognition and awards

Reward power also involves recognition. Recognizing employees through awards, certificates, or praise during meetings or company events is another way to boost morale and motivate others.


Additional benefits

Offering perks are a powerful form of reward power. For example, benefits such as extra vacation days, flexible work hours, health programs, or better retirement plans shows you care about employees' well-being.


Professional development opportunities

Using reward power to invest in their growth can increase loyalty and performance. Providing training programs, workshops, conferences, or courses helps employees learn new skills and advance their careers. 


Preferred assignments

Another way to use reward power effectively is giving employees the chance to work on projects they enjoy and that match their career goals. This in turn can make their work more fulfilling and motivating.


Team celebrations

Using reward power also includes teambuilding and being closer to your team members as a leader. This includes organizing team lunches, dinners, or outings to celebrate milestones and successes as a whole team.


Using Reward Power As a Leader

Reward power can significantly enhance employee happiness, performance, team effectiveness, and the achievement of company goals. However, relying solely on reward power is not enough to ensure better performance or effective management.

For example, overusing rewards can lead to short-term thinking rather than long-term goals. Additionally, reward systems can cause employees to perceive favoritism or bias in reward distribution, which can harm team morale and trust.

Effective leadership involves recognizing individual and team needs and addressing them with a balanced approach. While reward power is a valuable tool, as a leader, it’s essential to combine it with other forms of power and understand what your employees truly want.

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