Season of Giving – Part 2

December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about giving compensation increases for the wrong reasons. It is very easy to get sucked into doing this because that is the way it has always been done. That said, I neglected to talk about positive, meaningful and motivating variations for compensation increases.  This takes more creativity and a deeper understanding of each employee and what motivates them.

Typically, acceptance of additional responsibilities and/or significant improvements with current responsibilities are the primary positive and meaningful reasons raises are given. Some people want more responsibility and love to be rewarded when a job is well done. For some, this is all it takes for motivation.

But as I stated in Part 1, one-time pay increases tend to bring euphoria for a short period of time, but then dwindles fairly quickly in most people.  For these people, try a variable component to the compensation package.  Examples could be quarterly bonuses for meeting specific company financial goals. Another variation is to award individuals for completing a specific project that brings value to the company. Goals should be clearly defined for the award and payment given promptly after goals are met.

Regardless of the compensation plan, heed my advise. Completely think through what people are being incentivized to do.  People tend to literally do what you pay them to do. Keep compensation plans simple. Try to think about what people might do, both intentionally and unintentionally, to achieve the payments. For example, if some is paid to increase profitability, quality may be sacrificed in order to meet the profitability goals and obtain the award.

Be creative. Be motivating. Be simple. Dont give in to the easy way out.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was continued inspiration from Sunny Taylor.  She is an inspiration to my daughter and to me. Thank you Sunny for all you do.

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Miss Impatient or The Amazing Race Contestant?

December 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

While my kids were on Fall Break in October, we went to Turkey Run State Park outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. By the way, what is the purpose of fall break? I suppose that rant is for another post.

Turkey Run State Park is an amazing park to hike. I never thought Indiana had such rugged and picturesque areas anywhere. A few trails could have been used to film the scene from Jurassic Park II where the “research” team first gets to the Site B island, Isla Sorna, and they are looking for another research scientist in the plush, jungle-like ravine when a herd of stegosaurs come walking through. Turkey Run is exactly like that, well except for the stegosaurs.

We were walking along one of these streams when the bank on one side became impassable. We were approaching people coming from the other direction so we stopped and waited for them pass. At this time, a woman and her daughter (probably around 8-10 years old) came up behind us and barged her way through making everyone wait. While this was irritating, I was glad they were in front of us and not behind us.

The stream and the trail ended at a waterfall. In order to continue, ladders had to be climbed up the side of the ravine to get to the top. Miss Impatient was waiting at the base of the ladder because there were 10-15 people coming down the ladder. I could see she was getting anxious and antsy. She kept whispering something to her daughter. As a steady stream of people kept coming down the ladder, her daughter started up the ladder (at the direction of Miss Impatient I am sure). People on the ladder were startled to see someone come up when they were already on their way down. My wife and I mentioned this was unsafe with no response. Others on the ladder also commented on it as unsafe, but the daughter of Miss Impatient continued to climb. Finally, she got what she wanted. The people at the top stopped and let the daughter and Miss Impatient up the ladder. The only thing that made sense was she was on a Speed Bump leg of the Amazing Race and needed to get through quickly to catch up with everyone else. Or maybe she was rude and impatient. I am not sure which scenario is more likely.

Beyond being rude, Miss Impatient also seemed to be missing everything around her. The scenery was amazing. The opportunities to talk to her daughter about the natural world around her – the water erosion, rock formations, the history of time gone by and the hollowed out trees where the chipmunks lived – were unlimited.

There are many times where we are trying to hurry through our professional lives, whether it is a large project or small assignment. Problems and errors are inevitable to arise and when we are “barging through” to get to the end, it is very difficult to see the answers to those problems and to pick out the errors in the first place.

As leaders in business, we always need to slow down a bit. When problems arise, many leaders react by trying to solve the problem right away. Instead, it is more important for leaders to ask questions of the people working on the problem.  As a leader, you will likely not always know the answer, but you should always know the questions to ask that helps to figure out the answers.

This approach may take more time. It may even be frustrating for the people hurrying through their projects, but in the end, instead of only learning the answer, the person may also learn a way to figure out a similar problem the next time.

Giving the answer and getting to the finish line quickly works well for a short-term benefit. But by slowing down the process, helping people figure out the answers to their own problems, while it is certainly more time-consuming, the long-term benefits are tremendous.  Not to mention it is much more enjoyable to witness. Enjoyable like slow leisure hike through Turkey Run State Park.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

I was encouraged to write this blog by my wife. I was inspired to write this blog by Miss Impatient. I do hope she slows down to enjoy life…or wins the million dollars.

Season of Giving

December 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Tis the season when people give gifts.  Too many times the gifts are given for the wrong reasons: (1) to keep up with Joneses, (2) hope the gift will heighten a relationship, and (3) unintentionally reward others for bad behavior.

Similarly in business, leaders give raises for the wrong reasons: (1) we feel like it must be done because a performance evaluation is being done, (2) we assume the person will work harder or be more loyal as a result, or (3) we are afraid the person will not like us anymore. 

The positive feeling from a pay increase lasts for only a few weeks. Then the person tends to go back feeling the same way they did before the raise.  It is not the money that tends to be at the top of people’s list that will make them feel better about their job or their life.  It tends to be non-monetary things like public praise, training, better title, new equipment, upgraded software, and clear communication.

Be thoughtful. Be creative. During this season of giving…raises for next year…when deciding to give an employee something for a job well done, be creative. Dont assume that money motivates everyone.

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was inspired by Sunny Taylor.  She is an inspiration to my daughter and to me. Thank you Sunny for all you do.

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