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Incentive Programs as Best Practice Identifiers

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Many companies miss a golden opportunity to drive better results by… wait for it…

…focusing too much on program results.

The vast majority of incentive programs are designed to reward participants for hitting specific goals.  Unfortunately, you lose a ton of information and a ton of future performance by being so singularly focused.  When you focus on results for your incentive activity the BEST you can do when all is said and done is calculate a quick ROI. 

All you can do is divide the cost of the program by the incremental value generated during the program period to get a rough return on the award investment.

That’s it.  Nothing more.

Focus on the Steps

However, if you take some time and do a little research and digging you can design your incentive program to give you much better data and much better performance in the future.  Before taking the easy road of simply rewarding objective achievement take the more difficult path by working with your top performers and understand what they are doing to be top performers.  My experience is that most top performers do two or three things differently (or more accurately just “do” things) that increase their odds of delivering results.

Take sales people as an example.  After talking with your top performers you’ll probably find…

  • Top sales people call more people than less successful sales people
  • Top sales people follow up more often with potential clients than less successful sales people
  • Top sales people ask many more questions about client needs than less successful sales people
  • Top sales people listen more than less successful sales people

In other words, top sales people “do” a lot of things that end up resulting in sales – things that allow them to hit sales goals more often.

THOSE are the things you need to measure, track and reward.  Not just the outcome.

More Data – More Results

By designing your program around the steps in the process you now have data you can use to determine which of those steps are critical.  Is one step more indicative of success than another?  Does follow up really matter?  Which of the steps contribute most to success (there are statistical tests you can use to find out)?

If you don’t track those things you have no idea what really drives success.

Once you’ve designed your program around the individual steps and know which ones really impact success you can then socialize and train your team on those steps increasing the chances you’ll hit your future goals.

Without measuring the individual elements in the process all you really know is whether someone hit their goal or not.  That’s not really helpful when trying to push best practices from your best to your worst performers.

It’s Not Just Sales

I used sales as an example because that’s a pretty universal job description but the same idea can be used for project managers, accounting, marketing, you name it.

One goal, one result= one data point.

Multiple criteria =-multiple data points.

Take the time to reward and measure the steps involved in great performance to create your own best practices and use that information to increase overall business performance.

Originally posted on on Incentive Intelligence