Tag: challenge (Page 1 of 2)

How using a 9-iron isn’t the answer to a 540 yard par 5 – just like incentives aren’t the only answer to employee motivation

The Approach

A few weeks ago a number of factors all convened so that I spent 5 days playing 99 holes of golf (see here).  It was fun, but I’m ok if I don’t hold a golf club in my hands for a little while.

Let’s preface by stating that I’m not an avid golfer nor am I a very good golfer.  I’m average.  I usually get out 3 to 4 times a year.  I can talk the talk, I do some things well, and others not so well.  One of the things that I was doing well during those five days was hitting my 9-iron.

And I was hitting it well.

On a pretty consistent basis I was hitting the ball between 140 and 170 yards with my 9-iron – and they were mostly straight (which is a big deal for me).  And once* I put one out there about 185 yards (*it was downhill and the wind was behind me).  Put this in perspective, according to Brent Kelly at About.com the average men’s 9-iron distance is between 95 and 135 yards.  You would need to move up to a 5-iron to reach the average distance I was getting with my nine.

Of course I was hitting most of my other clubs poorly.  I’d top my driver and it would bounce out 30 yards.  I’d slice my 3-iron into the trees.  I’d hit my five iron, but it would fade left and only go about 100 yards.  I’d totally duff my 3-wood.

So what did I do?

I ended up just playing with my 9-iron and putter.  Honestly.  It didn’t matter if it was a par 3 140 yard hole or if it was a monster 540 par 5 – I’d pull out my 9-iron and shoot.

And you know what…I played better than I usually do.  We used many of my shots in the scramble competition.  I won my head to head match.  Overall, I did pretty well using just my 9-iron.

Therein lies the problem…

I did pretty well for me – but I definitely wasn’t one of the top golfers playing.  Sure I did better than I usually do, but I know that using my 9-iron on a long par 5 is not the optimum solution.  Yes it improved my game – but I wasn’t going to be able to match the top golfers I was playing with if I only used two clubs.

I often see companies that use incentives like I use my 9-iron.  It becomes the only club in their bag.

Therein lies the problem. 

We find that we have some success with an incentive program/reward program/new initiative and we think, “hey, we’re doing pretty good here.”  Then we use the same thing again and again – regardless of the issue we are trying to address.  The problem is that using that approach, we will never be at the top of our game.  We will never be able to fully motivate and engage our employees.  We will get to the equivalent  of a 540 yard hole, which requires a creative new approach – and we pull out the “9-iron incentive” instead because, hey, “I can hit it 170 yards.”  But that probably won’t ever get you a par.  And it certainly won’t get you an eagle.

There are a number of clubs that we have to use to help drive motivation.  We need to engage people with challenging jobs, build great interpersonal connections, create a culture that people are proud of, make sure that people have opportunities to grow and excel.    But these are all harder to master, take longer to build, and have a higher probability of a major slice or hook – so we too often just fall back on the old faithful 9-iron incentive plan.

The Driving Range

So I need to go out to the driving range and start working on my other clubs – maybe starting with the 8-iron and moving down the line**.  That is the only way that I will ever improve my game and become a “good” golfer. 

The only way a company will ever become really good at motivating its employees is to start developing their skills with other methods of engagement besides incentives.

We can look at the 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation and know that we have to engage people in bonding, learning and defending as well as in acquiring.

Get out on the proverbial driving range and see what works for you.  Add a little more job rotation.  Change the goal setting system.  Maybe some more team building.  How about a more open and communicative culture.  It takes practice.  It takes time.  There will be a few shots that go in the water…but in the end, its what is required to become a scratch golfer or a great company!

(**Of course, I think I’ll take a few more weeks off from golf to fully recover…I mean 99 holes in 5 days is a lot!)

Let us know what your favorite club is – leave a comment!

Repost: We are NOT rational beings so why do we try to make rational incentive programs?

Take the blndfolds offTake off our rational blindfolds…

Dan Airely, Richard Thaley, Cass Sunstein, Daniel Kahneman, Ran Kivitz, and many more psychology and behavioral economics  researchers have shown that while we like to think of ourselves as rational, thinking human beings who are out to optimize our well being, we aren’t.

In fact, we are very far from it.

Sharon Begley at Newsweek wrote this interesting blog “The Limits of Reason” in it, she states, “But as psychologists have been documenting since the 1960s, humans are really, really bad at reasoning. It’s not just that we follow our emotions so often, in contexts from voting to ethics. No, even when we intend to deploy the full force of our rational faculties, we are often as ineffectual as eunuchs at an orgy.”

We see this all the time.  I wrote about it in my earlier post from today “5 Lessons from the Maze.”  We tend to act and behave in very non-rational ways.  There are lots of irrational types of behavior and thinking and lots of theory’s about them (i.e., Loss Aversion, Status Quo Bias, Gambler’s Fallacy, Hedonistic Bias, Anchoring, Reciprocity, Inequity Aversion, etc…).

Here is what is interesting – we tend to still design our incentive programs and our motivational strategies based on believing that people act in a rational manner. We create programs that have 10 different ways to earn, with multipliers, qualifiers, and ratchet effects.  We create programs with multiple components and factors that we think will drive specific behaviors and elicit particular performance results.  We believe we know what people want and use only extrinsic rewards to drive our results.

Ouch!

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There is always that one client who drives you NUTS…

This is a true story of what happened to me and one client.Driving me nuts

It began in August.  I was contracted to conduct an analysis for a company that will remain unnamed.  The analysis looked at some specific aspects around a new product launch and involved interviewing a number of executives and sales people from across the organization.  In all I did over 40 hours of interviews.  I spent twice that amount of time analyzing the interview responses, finding patterns and insights that applied to their specific situation, assessing linkages and developing insights.

I created a comprehensive report that included an executive summary, detailed findings, recommendations for success, and a large section with selected verbatim comments from the interviews.

I thought it was pretty good.  We uncovered a lot of useful information regarding the launch process,  the sales force readiness, and the work that needed to happen leading up to the launch that could really help the company be more successful.  We had taken the pulse of the organization and reported it back in a clear and informative manner.

I’m not just tooting my own horn – the client was very pleased with the content and the findings also.  No really he was. In fact, he stated in an e-mail, “I’m very happy with the content and findings and I’m glad I used your services…”

Great.  Well done.  End of story – right?

Not so fast… you knew something else was coming….

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A New Motivational Model Using the 4-Drives: Upcoming in 2011

Ok, this is a little bit of a teaser…we are in the process of doing a major overhaul of how we look at the 4-Drive Model.  We’ve talked about the need to update this model before (see here and here).  We are underway in getting that developed and should be launching it the first quarter of 2011.

Here is a sneak peak…the four main motivations as we’ve defined them are now renamed and constitute different elements:

1.  Personal Motivation- focus on the intrinsic motivators that we have and encompasses the Drive to Challenge & Comprehend

2. Reward Motivation- focus is on the extrinsic motivators that we have and encompasses the Drive to Acquire & Achieve

3. Social Motivation- focus is on the social drives that motivate us and includes the Drive to Bond & Belong

4. Passion Motivation (this name is still being hotly debated – but for now its what we are running with)… – focus is on the motivational element of purpose and passion – including defending one’s honor and tribe

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Rethinking the 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation

I have been touting the 4-Drive Model of Employee Motivation since I first read the 2008 Harvard Business Review article “Employee Motivation: A Powerful New Model” by  Nohria, , Groysberg, and Lee.   It is a powerful theory on human motivation in general, and in particular, employee motivation.  First presented in the 2002 book, “Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices” by Lawrence and Nohria, the model outlines four main drives of motivation.

At the Lantern Group, we’ve been working with this model for almost three years now.  We’ve posted on it several times in this blog (see 4-Drive Model here, Impact on Leaders here, and other info here, here, here, here and here for just a few examples).

It’s  good – but not perfect.

Right away we realized that it needed to be tweaked.

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How Well Does Your Organization Stack Up? Guest blog by Paul Schoening

As the hiring outlook improves with anticipation of the new calendar year on the horizon, election dust settling and corporate tax liability gaining clarity, the talent exodus will begin in next few months.

Are you ready?

If your organization has not installed proactive mitigation efforts, you could lose your best talent over the next 2 quarters (in other words, if your not doing something now, you’re going to pay for it later).  Successful recession recovery strategy should not ignore the critical variable of having the best talent on-board as well as engaging the “survivors”, lest ye not forget;

“High-commitment organizations outperform low-commitment organizations by 47%”

Watson Wyatt

“Engaged  employees are 43% more productive.”

The Hay Group

Our research shows that engaged employees can increase your financial position by almost 200% while disengaged employees can decrease your financial position by almost 25%.

http://www.globalstrategicmgmt.com/engaged- employees.

“In high-growth organizations, 84% of employees know where the organization is headed. In low-growth organizations, only 52% do.”

In Momentum

“Dependence  on remote forms of communication has left many younger workers bereft of interpersonal skills.:

Fast Company

“Camaraderie  between co-workers fuels much more than new business leads – relationships are also key drivers for recruiting, engagement and retention.”

Talent Management Magazine

Must we go on with the quotes? These are some pretty credible sources I might add.

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Survivor: Corporate America edition – Guest blog by Paul Schoening

Survivor “Damn Lucky”

Counter-intuitively, organizations tend to find difficulty prioritizing their employee engagement efforts during challenging environments. In fact, during this recession many have executed a status quo strategy, which communicates to their single greatest resource that you are “damn lucky to still be here”. Take a moment to think about this – has this been your organizations approach to engagement?

Therein lies the issue! If we tell our recession survivors they’re lucky to have a job and yet we label them our greatest remaining resource, we are sending mixed messages.

My Story

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Motivated by adversity: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

First, if you have not watched Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog starring Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day, and Nathan Fillion – please,  please do.  It is funny….ha, ha, ha, he, he, ha…. (ok, I need to work on my laugh – you’ll see the connection after watching).

The Spark

Joss Whedan on why he developed Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog:

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Leadership lessons from a dying Raccoon

RaccoonWe had three very cute  baby Raccoons in our yard last Thursday night.  They were fearless, lost, adorable and wondering around lost without a mother.  Kind of like employees without a good leader…but more on that later.

We went out and watched them as the toddled around the yard and gardens.  They were obviously hungry.  The smallest one could not keep up with its siblings and kept cooing out to them (that’s the only way I could describe it, like a mix between a cat’s “meow” and and owl’s “who”).  The siblings would circle back and rub noses with the smallest one.  They would try to get it to climb the rock wall to the garden or move under the table.  The smallest Raccoon would waddle slowly after them and try to keep up.

But the siblings were hungry and cold themselves and soon enough – they left the smallest one by itself.

The next morning, the smallest one was almost dead by the side of the garage.

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Passion or Lunancy – You Decide?

I was in South Dakota last week on a family vacation.  First off, I forget how beautiful South Dakota is and all that it has to offer.  Secondly, there are some really, really humongous carvings there…

Mount Rushmore

The original idea for Mount Rushmore is credited to South Dakota historian Doane Robinson who thought that it would increase tourism (he was a pretty insightful man).  His idea was to carve local famous people into some of the granite mountains of the Black Hills.  In 1924, after working on Stone Mountain, GA, sculptor Gutzon Borglum was brought in to carve the mountain.

Mt. Rushmore

Borglum expanded on the original idea and wanted it to be a National monument that focused on our presidents.  He insisted that his life’s work would not be spent immortalizing regional heroes but insisted that the work demanded a subject national in nature and timeless in its relevance to history.

Borglum started work on Mt. Rushmore in 1927 at the age of 60.  He worked the rest of his life on the mountain.

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