6 responses to “Powerful new insight on decision-making and behavior change…

  1. Pingback: Powerful new insight on decision-making and behavior change… « the Change Samurai's Blog

  2. Well said, Rick. Our behaviors and the psychology that drives them fit into the “it is what it is” part of our world. Knowing what they are gives us at least a fighting chance to improve on our current results.

  3. Thank, Tim, as always. I always chuckle when I hear a sales leader or marketing executive comment, “our people aren’t like that…”. I’m sorry. Last I checked people are like people. We can’t help it. We are what we are, and we really don’t realize that what we say and do are often very far apart. Keep sharing the truth about human nature, and maybe we all will be better off.

  4. Once upon a time, a line that I represented offered a version of your example: all sales reps were shipped a state-of-the-art projection TV (now you can tell how long ago this was); the goal was to sell 50 Projection TV’s during the promotion timeframe. At the end of the program, we would be invoiced $100 for each TV that we fell short of the target. As I recall, I worked like crazy to sell those TV’s – the net effect was that I ended up with a big screen TV for $200 – still a good deal. (But I don’t think it could be called an “incentive” program – more like a risk-avoidance scenario, that came with a fair amount of stress as a $5000 invoice was not in my budget at the time).

    Even a perfectly-designed incentive program is not a panacea if the corporate culture is off. Two recent stories: the teller at a major bank noticed the name of my company and proceeded to tell me about their incentive program, “oh, we have one of those but I don’t really get it. It changes every few months, we get a big scorecard every day in our e-mail but I don’t really understand why I’m earning points or what I should be doing. I just continue to do my job and if something happens, great.” This is probably not what the bank executives or incentive planners had in mind when they rolled out the program.

    Likewise a friend at a major communications company says they they used to have employee “satisfaction” surveys – now everything is “engagement”. He also said, “it’s not like we don’t know which answer we’re supposed to pick”. He followed that up with a tale of past incentive trips to exotic locations – this year they were each awarded a crystal vase (he made a face when he said it). Lots of factors are in play that are common to many companies today: downsizing means more work for fewer people; he used to be in a big office with all of his direct reports and recalls that they used to feel like a team – they are now all working from remote offices with conference calls (during which everyone is multi-tasking) as their only interaction. He feels very dissatisfied AND disengaged – but that will never show up on their survey.

    It’s my business, so I’m definitely not hating on incentive programs or benchmarking surveys – but I would argue that you don’t need a survey to tell how your employees feel. Sit on a plane and listen to flight attendants complain to each other about schedules; get in line at the grocery store and listen to the cashiers complain about hours and baggers over the customers – there are a lot of unhappy employees out there. In fact, when I come across someone that seems really happy about their job or their company, it’s remarkable. Managers need to start with some basic common sense: give your people some autonomy without undermining, reinforce that they’re making a valuable contribution, understand that they have a life outside of work, support them in efforts to grow or learn new skills – be a decent human being. THEN you’ll get better results from your incentive program.

  5. Thank you, Barb, for coming to Ideationz, and for your comments. I agree that an incentive used to mask other shortcomings will almost always fail or fall short. Especially in an environment of disconnected or misaligned leadership, or where there are fundamental flaws in the compensation system. Employee satisfaction surveys can be instrumental in identifying issues and degrees or priorities. Too often they are set aside and not acted upon, however.
    Engagement is different than satisfaction, although some will confuse the two. A highly satisfied employee my still leave the company if s/he feels that there are better opportunities elsewhere. A highly engaged employee may feel challenged and want to stay, without being satisfied with how things are.
    Thanks again, Barb. I hope you come back often and share your thoughts!

  6. Caitlin Roberson

    Rick, Great article! You are correct that utilizing this type of research can spell the difference between success and failure for your brand, your product, or your company. At Xactly, we believe in empowering companies so they can offer accurate sales incentive compensation that focuses on market changes and corporate goals without hiring expensive professional services teams. Tips here: http://www.xactlycorp.com/media/2011/12/incentive-compensation-for-yourself/

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