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Standard Incentive Programs Don't Fit Anybody

Apr 10, 2008
Having decided to change strategic direction, many businesses find pursuing the opportunity so exciting that they forget to consider how incentives should shift as well. Or the incentive system managers operate with all the delicacy of a dinosaur eating lunch, and so people may be fearful of asking about changing incentives.

For example, in one of the most highly regarded high technology companies in the country, a manager tried to create a multi-billion-dollar business in only three years. He got the help and financial resources he needed to succeed. But he worried that this was going to be a high-risk assignment, and that his colleagues would perform poorly unless the incentives matched the risk profile.

Soon, the manager was so upset about this problem that he could think about little else. But because he viewed the corporate compensation people with fear, he was reluctant to contact them.

Finally, a consultant insisted that he make a telephone call to the compensation managers. The executive learned to his astonishment that the company already had a program that he could use to do just exactly what he wanted to do. He had simply been too intimidated to ask about it.

Months had been wasted unnecessarily because of the poor level of trust about incentives in that company. The compensation people, in this case, could have helped by making more information available about their philosophy about incentives so that managers would be less reluctant to approach them with questions. Keep this lesson in mind when making your irresistible force management plans.

In addition, be sure to remember that often incentives have to change over time in order to be good motivators. New people in a business may fret about recognition, as feedback that they belong and fit in with the others.

After they become convinced that they are doing well and fit in, they may want more in the way of promotion and compensation incentives. Further along in their careers, they may want to build financial security, and, prior to retiring, they may want as many pension benefits as possible.

It's also possible that a person may have a life-changing experience and thereafter see things differently. For example, following a heart attack many people look for more balance in their lives rather than more professional challenge. Or after losing a loved one or having a baby, personal responsibilities for relatives, home, or family may dramatically change and cause a new attitude toward work.

To be most useful, then, your incentive program has to be a work in progress in general, as well as highly adaptable on a personal level.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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