Incentives. The word brings up a variety of images in most people’s minds. From "cash back" at the dealership to sales bonuses for getting more people to buy your products – most people immediately go to the "sales" arena as if the only place incentives have a place is when pushing something.
Nay, nay I say. Expand your mind. Incentives (and by extension – rewards and recognition) belong anywhere you have people. Incentives aren’t goal specific – they are people and behavior specific. Incentives can and should be applied anytime you have a goal that isn’t being attained, and people and their associated behavior are some of the reasons the goal is being missed.
I have presented the chart below many, many times and each and every time the response is…"gee… I never thought about it that way before. You’re right – I can use incentives and rewards in a variety of ways."
I now share my secret weapon with you. Here’s the chart…. (click for a larger image)
The way to read the chart is to start at the left and go to your right.
As a business manager, you have pretty much one goal in mind – increase the value of the shareholder (or stakeholder for private companies) investment in that company. That’s the one measure everyone can agree on. I know, I know, there are other goals and objectives – employee satisfaction, engagement, etc. that are important. But, I submit they exist to drive profit for the company and those that have invested their money/time/capital. But I digress.
As you move from left to right you can see that there are a variety of ways that a company can increase its value to the shareholder… from increasing sales, decreasing costs, making better use of the investments already in the pipeline. Each of those areas can then be subdivided, and ultimately you arrive at something people can do to influence the output/success of that area.
Need more cash – look at receivables – is there a way to motivate the teams to work a bit harder at collecting owed money? Need to get that new software online – can you influence the behavior of the employees to adopt the new tool faster – you bet!
If you print off the chart and keep it handy you can probably add 10-20 other areas where people have the ability to impact results. It’s not always sales.
Think differently about where and why you apply incentives, rewards and influence – you’d be surprised where a little nudge to the right people can help you hit those elusive goals and objectives.
Paul Hebert is Vice President of Individual Performance Strategy at Creative Group Inc, writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. He is dedicated to creating true emotional connections often overlooked in our automated, tech-enabled world. Using proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology he has driven extraordinary company performance for his clients. Paul is widely considered an expert on motivation, incentives, and engagement.