Employee Motivation | Behavior Matters!

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Secure Your Future by “Leading Human”

Woman sitting at computer working with laundry basket on the desk next to her

Building a Positive Workplace that Deals Effectively with Today’s Stresses

Caroline slumps in her chair, stares out her kitchen window, and wonders how it came to this. She looks down at the e-mail from her boss and shakes her head thinking, “She doesn’t understand.”  

The kids are arguing in the background… something about whose turn it was to take out the dog. Looking around the kitchen, she notices that the dishes from last night’s dinner are still in the sink, unwashed. In fact, the whole house is a mess, clothes lying where the kids dropped them, the half-done puzzle pieces litter the table, dirt tracks from the dog across the floor, mail is strewn about the countertop, unopened. The only part of the house that is reasonably orderly, she realizes, is the part right behind her, the part that is seen in the background of her Zoom calls.

She frowns. 

Caroline looks back at the e-mail and reads it again, “Caroline, Hi! Can you give me a call this morning before 11:00? I just got the sales reports in and I need to talk to you about your numbers. ~ Ramona.”  

She sighs; her mind is racing, “I know my numbers are off this quarter, but damnit, things are chaotic right now. How can she expect me to keep up the same pace that we had before?”  Caroline’s heart is racing, and her stomach is twisted into knots. She hasn’t slept well for the past few months and wakes up wondering, “What happens if I lose this job? How will we make it?”   

She takes a deep breath and starts to reach for the phone but stops, and just stares blankly out the window, leaving the phone untouched on the table…    

Handling this new workplace and the stress it puts on your employees requires a new approach to leadership. It requires Leading Human™.

What does it mean to Lead Human?

Leading Human means leading with humility, self-awareness, and a desire for purposeful growth. We are in a time of unprecedented change and transition in business.  

Employees who feel happy and purposeful at work demonstrate higher productivity, increased motivation, and greater feelings of organizational alignment. In the past, we might have perceived the costs of a non-inclusive leader as negligible; in the wake of a global pandemic and unprecedented lifestyle impacts, we have seen firsthand the real difference thoughtful leadership makes, not just in the short term, but also for the reputation and performance of the company in the long term. 

Even during times of crisis, organizations need to be productive and motivated, or output will suffer. It is humans who develop and produce vaccines, who diagnose and treat diseases, who debug the software we rely on to communicate virtually. 

Leading Human helps leaders who manage teams understand how to generate the behaviors that lead to higher productivity, increased motivation, and loyalty. It brings the tools, knowledge, and skills necessary for you to implement a more human-centered workplace that can drive improved performance and employee satisfaction – all backed by the latest insights from behavioral science. 

Ok… so how do I lead Human?

Luckily, we created a playbook for that very purpose, we hope to empower you as a leader and enable you to channel your best, most authentic leadership —a key step in the new workplace environment to optimize your team’s well-being and success

The Leading Human Playbook is an 84-page comprehensive guide to building a positive workplace that deals effectively with today’s anxieties and stresses. The companion Leading Human Workbook takes the science-backed insights detailed within the playbook and allows today’s forward-thinking leaders and organizations to turn those insights into action.

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Grab your copy of the Leading Human Playbook and Workbook today!

Backed by leading experts in the fields of Behavioral Science and Behavioral Economics, Leading Human was created in response to the wholesale changes and disruptions we have all experienced this past year. This roadmap outlines the key steps organizations and leaders must take in order to come back to work successfully and compete in the new world.

Leading Human™ goes beyond just the re-entry from the pandemic and impacts the core of how work will happen in the future. These changes mean that we need to shift the way we lead. Thus, we need to not only understand the stress and emotional factors that our employees face, but we also need to address those factors head-on, creating a more welcoming and safer workplace, develop leadership routines that account for employee emotions, and enhance our leadership communication skills.

Our work with experts in human dynamics and our own expertise in this field allowed us to gather key behavioral insights into an actionable toolkit for managers. Leading Human™ focuses on four key areas that leaders can work on to help drive a successful transition. Our work has shown that Creating Psychological Safety, Building a Team Charter, Implementing Human-Centered Routines, and Charting a Clear Path Forward can make a significant difference in employees’ emotional connection to the company and successful re-entry. The book guides managers through specific rationale on each of those key areas and gives them specific tools to implement some of the ideas.

A collective 40+ years of working with organizations to apply behavioral science for increased performance went into creating these resources. Don’t get left behind in today’s hyper-competitive world –grab your copy here.

Returning to Work is More Emotional Than We Might Think

Distressed employee looking at his computer with his head in his hand
Companies that fail to address return to work concerns will see large rates of employee attrition

We are in a unique time right now in the US.

With vaccines readily available and cases of COVID-19 falling, companies are looking to bring people back into the office or install a hybrid model of work that allows flexibility. 

This shift brings with it a lot of opportunity but also exposes some larger potential downsides.

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Experience Matters: Helping Companies Communicate More Effectively

Girl with glasses sitting at her desk looking board with her chin on her hand
Good Communication is Key to Engagement

Numerous companies have a difficult time building engagement and trust with their employees. 

The problem doesn’t always have to do with their processes or procedures or even management behaviors –in many cases it has to do with how they communicate to their employees. In over 20 years of helping companies solve these issues, we’ve found that companies often don’t communicate with their employees in a way that helps them understand and buy-in to the very programs that are designed to engage them.  

While some companies have significantly improved their ability to create professional-looking presentations and graphically appealing brochures, they still have not fully embraced bringing a behavioral science approach to their internal communications to communicate in a more human way.

This is where we help. 

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12 Magic Words to Unlock Sales Performance

person at a desk form above with a quote
The Power of Word Choice

Prevail, accomplish, compete, strive, thrive, triumphed, achieve, mastered, win, success, gain, attain.

What do these words have in common?

When used appropriately they have the power to increase performance by 15% (or more!).

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A Home Run for IC Directors

Man sitting back in office chair with his hands behind his head looking satisfied
Create a Great IC Program AND Make Sure it is Understood

Incentive compensation professionals work hard at developing incentive plans that drive employee motivation while also meeting their company’s strategic objectives.

In the past, this has been achieved by using rules of thumb and stringent financial analysis. Yet, hard work is not enough in today’s turbulent times.  

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Communication makes your job easier – now get your company to invest in it

iPhone on table with plant
When companies invest in better incentive communications everybody wins

In today’s hyper-competitive world, you need an equally competitive advantage to stay ahead.

As sales professional your time and energy should be focused on selling not on trying to decipher the communications you receive from your organization.

Understanding how your incentive and rewards programs work should be easy. Today’s competitive tool for outperforming your goals is better communication.

Your comp plans and rewards may be good, perhaps the best, but if your company is not investing in communication, you often miss out on their true potential.

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Sculpting Motivation – Maximizing your Total Rewards with Behavioral Science

This article highlights the key learnings from Kurt’s presentation at the “2020 World at Work Spotlight on Sales Conference”. The original slide deck is available below.

Man screaming into phone exhibiting bad sales behavior
Rewards Programs are a Key Driver of Sales Behavior

In 1937, paleontologist Gustav von Koeningswald was working on the island of Java in Southeast Asia, searching for new evidence of our early human ancestors.  To achieve this goal, he needed to find fossils, and the apex of fossils was the skull. With an intact skull, paleontologists are better able to distinguish between ape and human. 

But skulls were rarely are found intact. 

Instead, paleontologists needed to piece together a multitude of small skull fragments in a complex 3D puzzle.  It was difficult work – difficult to find all the pieces and difficult to fit them together in the right way to reform the original skull. 

To help alieve the burden of searching and finding the skull pieces, von Koeningswald enlisted the help of people from the local village.  He did this by giving them an incentive. He paid them 10 cents per skull fragment that they delivered to him.   

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Identifying Friction in Your Organization

Friction is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the force that resists relative motion between two bodies in contact” or “the clashing between two parties of opposed views.”   

Identifying Organizational Friction
Organizational Friction

In our last article, we identified three types of organizational friction (the resistance points within a company that limit its performance). Those friction points were caused by oversight or shortcomings in Policy, Culture, and Environment. Each type of organizational friction has its own unique root causes and manifests itself differently within a company.

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The Behavioral Science of Socks!

Socks – really?

No, this isn’t one of those government studies where you wonder how it ever got approved (i.e., how long can shrimp run on a treadmill or does playing FarmVille on Facebook help people to make friends and keep them?*).

Socks and behavioral science. The two do not seem to fit together, yet I consistently use my socks as a personal behavioral modification tool.

Here’s how.

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Engaging Your Sales Force With Direct Mail

In today’s hyperconnected technology-driven world, it can be easy to overlook the simple time-tested solutions of the past. This holds true for communicating with and motivating your sales force.

With the consistent advent of new communications, new sciences, and new methodologies – shaking things up with a new (old) method can be a refreshing way to tap into your teams’ motivators.

Let’s take a little step back in time and talk about direct mail. Simple, well designed, customized mailers that tap into key behavioral insights can be just as effective as the newest technologies or communication tools when utilized correctly.

Think about it, we are flooded with messaging all day every day – both personal and business. With each organizational department trying to get their message out on top of that, it can be hard to manage all of the information. Technology can get lost in the fray, but unexpected personalized direct mail can disrupt the norm and grab back that attention. Combine this with behavioral science and you have a simple yet powerful tool.

Let’s take a look at an example, a postcard series we designed to help top achievers keep achieving and to nudge bottom achievers to end the plan period on a high note.

One customized to a high performer:

And one customized to a moderate performer:

While these may seem simple, there are some key behavioral insights that are being strategically targeted to drive performance.

In both versions we utilize:

  • Idiosyncratic Fit: We have higher motivation if we think that a program is customized to us. By adding the employee’s name, stats, and a customized message to help them improve we tap into this drive. Each message is framed for the greatest impact based on their performance and adding the physical component of the postcard further personalizes it.
  • Social Proof: We look to others to see how we should behave. There are two elements at play here. One: the messaging addresses the performance of their peers, pushing them to stay with or ahead of the pack. Two: this can be shared with a spouse, partner, or family member who can provide an additional level of support – for example, the reminder of a chance to partake in an awards trip with a partner can be very impactful.

Now, note that in the high performer card we tap into:

  • Loss Aversion: The pain of loss is greater than the pleasure of a similar gain. For high performers, the idea of having something valuable and then losing it is far more motivating than a “carrot” on a string.

And in the average performer card we use:

  • Gain Messaging: Framing the statement to focus on what can be gained from increased performance. With the moderate performers, where the perception is that there is more to be gained than lost, the gain messaging can drive a higher participation rate.

Try this with your sales force or reach out with the form below for help customizing and implementing this simple, effective technique within your team!

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