Motivation and performance – What’s your cherry on top of the cake – Part 1

This week I am sharing a performance management tool that beats 90% of tools applied in business. There is unquestionable evidence that it works. It motivates, changes behavior, is fun, provides real-time feedback, is visual, can be created in 10 minutes, is user-friendly (a 3 year old understands it) and does not cost any money.

Here is what it looks like:

performance chart

If you are a parent (or watch “The Supernanny” on TV), then you know how this works. Every behavior has consequences. If I tidy up my room and get a reward for it, I will do it again. If I am rewarded again, I will tidy up even more. That’s how behavior is shaped. Consequences = behavior change. No consequences = no behavior change. That applies everywhere: at home, at work, with kids, adults, society, community.

“The rules we know and apply as parents we forget to apply as managers!”

That’s the real problem of performance management! The rules are the same. Only the rewards, behaviors and consequences are different.

Example from business: sales people don’t fill in new customer contracts correctly = delays in processing contracts = extra work to correct contracts = customer waits longer for the product / service = unhappy customer. Sales person does not care because his compensation depends on how many contracts he hands in, not if they are correctly filled in. Consequences for the business: order cycle time down, failure rates up, spend extra $ on correcting contracts, customer satisfaction down, customer not recommending you to his colleagues, lost new and repeat business. Consequences for the sales person: None, he gets rewarded in form of compensation!

Assuming the motivating reward for sales people is money, then they should only be paid extra commission for contracts that are handed in without mistakes!

The rules of the above chart are simple:

  • Gather every evening around the chart to discuss specific positive and negative behavior during the day, explain why they were good or bad
  • Bad behavior = no point
  • Good behavior = you get a point
  • If you have enough points you get a reward

You just need to define what kind of behavior you want to promote and populate the chart accordingly.

There are just a few keys to making this tool work:

  1. Define the behavior you want to promote/change
  2. Create a rule that specifies what behavior gains you points
  3. Pick rewards that the person really, really, really wants
  4. Apply the tool often (daily or weekly) to visualize the progress
  5. Instead of 1 big reward 1x a year, allow to gain smaller rewards but more often

If you pick a reward I don’t care about, then why would I care about changing my behavior to gain it?

If you don’t review behavior every day or week but only 1x a year (as in the usual performance review process), then you don’t see any development (which can be positive or negative) and miss opportunities for intervention.

This was part 1 of 2 on performance management and motivation. Next week in part 2 you will read about the latest trends in performance management – what tools companies abandoned (because they don’t motivate or improve performance) and what they are moving towards (because it works).

Here is some food for thought and a question you can use to inspire great conversations; use it with family, friends or colleagues:

 “what really, really, really motivates you – What is the cherry on top of the icing of the cake for you?”


2 thoughts on “Motivation and performance – What’s your cherry on top of the cake – Part 1

  1. Hello Johannes,

    thank you a lot for this post. As HR Manager this idea is very interesting for me. Maybe you take a look at the book “Drive” by Daniel Pink – if you haven’t already done so. It should be interesting for you in this context. There’s also a funny and very nice Video on YouTube that explains his findings. FH-greetings from Italy, Joerg

    Liked by 1 person

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