Thursday, October 23, 2008

Incentive programs: Where’s your follow-through?

You’ve determined a budget, put an employee incentive program in place and have taken your position, patiently waiting for the motivation to begin. Ready ... set ... hike!

While you may not associate employee incentives with college sports teams, there’s always someone out there like Paul Hebert at Fistful of Talent to make you think again.

Yesterday, Paul wrote an insightful post comparing the effort sports teams put into getting results (i.e., winning championships) to the effort organizations put into preparing their teams to hit the big goal (i.e., sales numbers).

“Too often, companies put a program in place, with the associated budget, in order to motivate the troops to hit their goals. But most of the time, the program is announced, the awards delineated and the “auto-pilot” button is pushed.

Everyone sits back and assumes because the reward is big the folks will do the job. Where’s the one-on-one coaching? Where is the daily practice on areas that need it? Who is watching from the tower and yelling instructions to the team below? In most cases, business is talking big money too. Lack of performance – whether that be your sales organization or your call center, can lead to either big wins or big losses. But we don’t want to put in the effort.

I spend my time talking to clients about the design of the incentive and reward system that helps align their audience to the goals for the organization – but I also ask what effort they will be putting into coaching, training and leadership.

The greatest incentive program in the world won’t get you to the results you want, unless you’re willing to put in the time with your audience to make sure they have the skills and the information needed to help achieve the goal.

To all of the training professionals and managers in charge of training employees, we would like to know - where’s your follow-through?

What do you do to make sure your rewards and incentive program doesn’t get set on “auto-pilot” mode? Do you always put in time with employees to make sure they’re equipped with the training and skills needed to achieve the goal?

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