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Assumptions Suck – Top 10 Incentive Assumptions



There is nothing as disappointing as waking up on New Year’s Day expecting to spend the day watching college football and then not being able to watch the games.  I thought about the bowl games all day on Saturday.  I planned my appetizer schedule and cleaned the dust off the big screen.  I adjusted my surround sound for optimal crowd noise impact. 

I was so stoked to get my college bowl game day on.

Then I woke up on Sunday and realized that all the games I wanted to watch were on Monday January 2nd.

Monday.  Today.  The first work day of the new year.  Not New Year’s Day.  Not the day I had planned.  Not the day I thought.  Not the day I had ASSUMED the games would be played.

I mean really, the Rose Bowl is always on New Year’s Day.  Except when it’s not.

I had assumed the games were on New Year’s Day.  And that assumption was wrong.

Assumptions About Incentives

As you’re rolling out your incentive and reward programs this year remember to challenge your assumptions about the program.  I give you my list of common false assumptions I’ve run into over the years…

  1. What the boss thinks is a good incentive usually isn’t.
  2. People can keep a 12 month goal in the forefront of their mind.
  3. If the award is valuable enough you don’t need to communicate and remind them of the award opportunity.
  4. A bigger award is better.
  5. Top performers don’t need to be reminded of where they stand in the program.
  6. Rewarding the top 10% will motivate the other 90%.
  7. Everyone likes travel as an award.
  8. Millions of award choices is the best way to get everyone excited about the program.
  9. If I only reward people on incremental business the program will pay for itself.
  10. In this economy, just keeping their job is incentive enough.

Everyone of those assumptions is false.  Every. One.

Remember, when you assume … well – I’ll let the late, great Tony Randall explain it… (subscribers may need to click through for the video.)



 PS:  No google+ hangout today due to an unplanned root canal for the spousal unit.  Be back next week (January 9 at 4:00 pm EST.)


Originally posted on on Incentive Intelligence