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Incentive programs may backfire

Posted by Brandon Taylor on June 4, 2015

Incentive cartoon

Written by Cory Bowers, CEO and President of eFORCE Software


As a business principal, like everyone else, I have tried to find creative ways to motivate the people who work alongside me. After many attempts at multiple incentive programs, and almost as many failures, I have determined the following:

  1. Publicly recognizing one person’s achievements may be counterproductive to all those who believe they were worthy of the same recognition
  2. Setting an all or nothing goal may have disastrous results. Always set a goal that has a tiered reward structure, even if the first tier is a small reward.
  3. Try to privately recognize efforts on an individual basis. I have found nothing goes further than an unexpected acknowledgement or reward.
  4. Go out of your way for those who do the same for the company. One evening we had a server go down, which provided mission critical services to our customers. Although I could not provide any real in-depth technical help with the situation, I stayed through the night to be our technician’s gopher and food runner. They all later disclosed to me that working through the night became no big deal because they knew the company had their back.
  5. As a principal, VP, manager, etc., be prepared to identify and deliver your part in helping those around you achieve their goals. IE: be willing to break the trail.
  6. Most important, know your audience! Do not assume those around you are motivated by the same things you are. Family, money, culture, time off, work hours, title, benefits, etc. have a different value to different people. Cater your incentives to meet the desires of your audience.


Topics: incentive, incentive programs, Leadership, motivating employees, motivation, recognition, Uncategorized


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