Paul Hebert recently wrote an excellent post on the Incentive Intelligence Blog about a very poorly designed incentive program. That got me thinking about the many poorly designed recognition initiatives I’ve seen over the years as well.
Scott Adams summarized my thinking well in this Dilbert strip from 2006.
Just to give one example of poor program structure, call centers will often set up reward structures based on call time or number of calls handled within a set amount of time. Yet such practices merely encourage representatives to get callers off the phone as quickly as possible, and not necessarily give the customer the level of service or help they truly require. So the representative is rewarded on essentially poor customer service and potentially a destroyed customer relationship.
Steve Kerr, the Chief Learning Officer at Goldman Sachs and former CLO at General Electric under Jack Welch, highlight similar poor program design in his excellent book Reward Systems: Does Yours Measure Up and in his oft-reference article “The Folly of Rewarding A while Hoping for B.”
Take a moment and think about your reward or incentive programs. Are you rewarding poor actions and outcomes and patting yourself on the back for high employee satisfaction scores? Or are you digging deeper to uncover true employee engagement and recognizing behaviors that reflect your company values while contributing your strategic objectives?