Where Are The Hungry Chickens?
by Laura Morgan
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My clients these days are asking me to help them shape a bonus plan, a sales comp plan, goals, and project tasks with compensation to try to find and inspire their employees to be hungry, to be eager, to want to deliver and achieve and earn great money, at the same time doing well for the business.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with our wealth planner. He happened to share with us a conference that he went to, or a meeting, et cetera, where the speaker asked the audience just some simple questions, which will help you understand what I cannot fix. And then I’ll end this with what I can. I cannot fix the realizations as a response to this question.
Did you work at age 16?
The question he asked the audience was, how many of you worked when you were 14? And surprisingly, I think in today’s culture, a good number of people in the audience raised their hands. After that, he asked how many of you worked at 16. Almost every hand went up. And then he said, okay, how many of you had your child work at age 14? Nobody’s hands went up. The next question is, how many of you had age 16, and only a few had their hands raised? And then he asked what I think is the clincher question: How many of you pay for one of the following: your adult child’s Netflix account, auto insurance, or cell phone? What might surprise you is the number of hands that went up. Almost every hand went up.
I use that to help emphasize what I cannot fix. We’ve created an enabling culture. People are getting things handed to them or on the backs of others, maybe without the sense of obligation that needs to be in those early days of young adulthood when you say you’re going to work hard and get good money.
Compensation can only do so much.
So then comes the flip side of what I can fix. What I work with clients is that I remind them pretty frankly by being transparent and direct with their expectations and creating a sense of obligation. You could start with the job description. The job description lists many activities that need to be performed and executed for the employee to receive a salary. The next thing is you do your performance reviews. You tell the employee what they’re doing well and not doing well, and you set your expectations. You also confirm or affirm that there is a continued sense of obligation, that the employees understand what needs to happen and will work, and are inspired to continue to work and strive to deliver the best they can. And then, ultimately, whatever plan design I put in play, it is the leader’s role, partnering with my team or any comp person to document the stretch. What is it that we need you to do to move this business forward so that for you to receive this additional amount of money, you will receive it when those other moments and successful activities have been completed?
We work hard to define those for companies. And I do feel that it takes education, communication strategies, some policies, and process to make sure people know it. But most importantly, it does require good leadership. That straightforward conversation of ensuring that the individual knows what they’re doing well and what they’re not doing well.And not just once a year but at least once a year. But I would expect these conversations surrounding Comp performance should be almost a regular conversation with your employees.
I’ll leave you with that…