Castle co-founder Wendy Spivak weighs in with her perspective on motivation, summer and recognition done well.
From the time we were all in grade school, summer has been a time to kick back and relax. But in the working world, a Monday is a Monday. Which, as I glance out the window at the tourists here in the Navy Yard visiting the U.S.S. Constitution, brings up the concept of motivation. Corporate motivation is a specialty of our events and incentives practice, and is the responsibility of every manager, CEO, team leader and supervisor, regardless of your company’s mission.
Motivation is the underlying mission behind successful incentive programs and events, laying the groundwork for exceptional results for our clients and their staff. Incentive programs, and many corporate events, are designed to motivate staff, business partners, community members, customers, etc. to do SOMETHING.
Let’s focus on the employee audience. How do you encourage employees to excel at their jobs—and continue to do so on a regular basis? Your first thought may be that this is a question for the HR department, but think again. Marketing communications can provide the answer.
At The Castle Group, we work with companies large and small to conceptualize programs that will motivate and inspire participants to excel. We know that every employee is different, and that corporate culture and individual preferences dictate the parameters for motivational marketing programs. The payoff? A properly designed and executed recognition and rewards program increases productivity and helps drive a company’s success. We find the most successful companies work with us to build programs that challenge staff to overachieve, not just perform their everyday jobs—and then reward for this success appropriately and often.
But before you purchase those trophies and start tracking brownie points, keep the following five points in mind:
1. “You Want Me to do WHAT?”
Understanding what makes your employees tick is key to developing a successful program. Some of our clients’ teams thrive on friendly competition, others on peer recognition. For these, an incentive program that tracks performance and culminates in an exclusive event—such as a high-end luxury trip, group outing or awards ceremony—motivates people to “win.”
Perhaps your employees are motivated by the ability to have more time with their families. Family-friendly activities or time off can provide encouragement.
Do you have a tech-savvy audience? These folks may be more responsive to an online rewards program with the latest gadgets as prizes. Whatever the environment, develop a program that considers all audience members.
2. It’s the Big Picture, It’s the Details…It’s BOTH
An employee recognition program should define team and/or individual goals that link to the company’s overall objectives. The prettiest bells and whistles amount to little if they don’t factor into the bigger picture.
Be specific and spell out exactly what is expected of each participant. If details are vague, rigid or difficult to understand, employees may not fully engage in the program. It’s also important to determine the “what’s in it for me?” factor. A program must clearly define what the participants receive for achieving the stated goals. Be realistic and set rewards that are equitable to what is being measured.
3. Here’s Where Communications Comes In
You know the old adage—and it’s one we harp on in our media training programs—tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them again, and then tell them what you told them. Creative, unique and targeted communication is key to any incentive program. How do you get the word out? Boldly launch the program at a company-wide meeting, build buzz with teaser communications, recognize milestones—”You’re halfway there!”—and personalize the digital communications, snail mail, voice mail and in-person reminders. Keeping things lively and interactive will ensure your audience is engaged, and build anticipation for the next program.
4. Function vs. Flash—Making the CEO and the COO Happy
You’ve mistakenly bought the fancy stilettos when a pair of Tevas would have been more realistic (gentlemen, please insert your own analogy). The same mistake can be made with an incentive program. You need not send the winners to the moon to solicit buy-in. An exclusive, private weekend trip to a local resort or team-oriented group outing to a ballgame, if properly planned and executed, can do the trick.
When developing your budget, project the program’s ROI and work backward. When ROI is difficult to determine—for example, if the goal is to facilitate teamwork and communication between departments—set a reasonable standard. Start small, remembering you can always add rewards but never subtract them. If your budget can’t support the whole group, try smaller rewards such as a day off or lunch with the CEO. Sometimes the little things really do have the most impact.
For example, at one end of the spectrum, we’ve had clients rent out an entire castle in Europe for staged theatrical performances, and fly in winners and company executives for a five-star team-building and reward experience. Others work with us to build interactive online rewards that are budget-flexible and provide daily, real-time motivation through customized micro-contests and rewards.
5. Measure Results and Keep Going
You can only reap the benefits if you know what they are. Survey your respondents. Get candid feedback from managers. Could anything have been better? Did the program work for everyone?
Motivation is an ongoing process. It shouldn’t end when the program does. Build on the program’s momentum and incorporate your findings into the next program. And remember that an audience’s needs and wants can change over time; you must regularly reevaluate the success of your program. Programs should raise the bar each time they’re introduced and sustain a level of excitement to deliver tangible results.
So instead of looking out the window at the tourists enjoying their vacations, your employees will have their own rewards in the backs of their minds, as they productively and purposefully attack and achieve the goals you’ve set