I would like to share a story that a friend of mine was telling on the weekend. When she was growing up with her 3 siblings her father had said they were not allowed to get a swimming pool until the youngest child aged 18 months was a competent swimmer. Amazingly the youngest child was not only swimming well, but doing somersaults off the diving board at the local public pool before she was 3 years of age. Her father had not meant it be a challenge to encourage the older children to teach the younger one to swim, in fact it hadn’t even crossed his mind it was just a comment based on his genuine concern for all the children’s safety. Unbeknown to him it was a terrific effort and reward system, which worked very well and in everyone’s favour.
The genius of this is there was no timeframe attached to the promise however the reward was always going to be there even if it took them 10 years to complete. Regardless of no timeline attached to the reward the desired outcome was achieved in less time than expected, due to the high perceived value of the reward. In a business situation we tend to place timelines on outcome/reward scenarios. If the reward seems unachievable within the timeframe, which most of the time it is, then employees don’t seem that motivated to challenge themselves for something that may have a negative outcome and potentially no reward anyway. A lot of time the reward is not that imaginative and just a cash bonus, and funny enough for most of us cash is not that exciting. However should the reward be individualised to each staff member, we have then probably got more chance of its effectiveness; we are all motivated by different triggers and money rewards usually go to paying off bills or mortgage. Let’s say Bob from accounts who is an avid cyclist gets a new $10K Cervelo time trial bike when he get the debtors to a certain level (no timeframe) or Steve our Project Manager a keen basketball fan gets a mini corporate box for him a 3 friends for the season watching the wildcats when he gets all progress claims and variations paid up below a certain point. I wonder how quickly the desired results would be achieved?
I am sure there is workable reward system in a lot of businesses, if you have any unique ones that work I would like to hear about them.