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Gale Britton on Reward

By Gale Britton

First job

My first job, which was really challenging, was at a Bronx day camp for kids.

I learned how to manage children and develop individual relationships with them until I had a corps of kids who learned to respect me and follow directions. But they were tough. I learned that working wasn’t so easy. My parents just made it look easy because they both left and returned home everyday and there was money at the end of the week.

Women Re-Shaping Leadership

I think the way women lead is generational. I’m a woman of a certain age, and that’s a nice way of categorizing us older boomers.

When I started working there weren’t a lot of women leaders, and I think in order for women to be successful they had to almost deny the fact that they were women. They kind of looked like men in many ways.

Depending on how long ago you came into the workforce, you didn’t want people to notice that you were different because you didn’t want that to make you stick out. You really wanted to blend in and assimilate with your male counterparts. I think it’s only recently—and by recent I mean the past ten or 15 years—that women embrace the fact that yeah, we are different and we do lead differently.

A SimpleThank You

Rewards don’t necessarily have to be monetary; people want to be appreciated. People will remember the raise they got and they remember that they got paid, but that’s fleeting. They do remember when people somehow find the time or a way in which they can say, “Thank you. Job well done.”

Ask and Receive, The Ultimate Reward

Many years ago, I thought I deserved a raise because people around me were all making a few thousand dollars more than I was. I remember telling my older sister, who was working at another firm, that I was going to ask my boss for a raise. She told me that I shouldn’t do it, that I should be grateful for the opportunity.

After I spoke with my sister I went back to my boss and said, “I know I asked you for a raise, but I’m just grateful for this opportunity and forget it.”

My boss asked, “Why did you change your mind.”

“I was talking to my sister and she said I was overstepping myself and I should just be grateful. You really have been a great boss,” I said.

And she replied, “Well, I am going to give you the raise. Not so much because you asked for it, but because you reminded me of all the work you’ve done. You always do it with a smile on your face and I’m really happy to have you here. And when you came in and said you didn’t want it anymore it made me feel like you were here for the opportunity and not for the money.”

The greatest reward was the conversation. I did fire my sister as my mentor because I figured she didn’t know what she was talking about.

The Wow Factor

Get it done ahead of time or under budget. Surprise me with figuring out how to do it better, faster, cheaper. I’m looking for the wow factor in the work. How do we wow our customers?

We’re in a business, especially in financial services, where it really is service that differentiates us. We have to come up with a new way to reinvent that mouse trap. Somehow spin it differently. It’s not just the getting it done, because that’s why you get paid. You get paid to do it on time and on budget. Do it early and deliver under budget and that’s what deserves the reward.