By Lorraine Hart
When you think of employee games what instantly comes to mind? Are these thoughts negative or did you think of something positive? Yes, there is the negative side of employee games, where the game seems to be getting you. In this case it seems that you are the adversary, as opposed to a team member. Instead of playing a game, where there has to be a winner or loser, let’s look at games where everyone can will and have fun – a game where everyone wins.
Staff performance games are one way to motivate your staff and achieve the results you want. Everyone wants to be a winner, and most people enjoy a game. Your employees will work with more efficiency, speed, enthusiasm and teamwork than ever before. Your clients will win, your staff will win – and you will win.
In his writing on management, author L. Ron Hubbard stated that “If you reward nonproduction you get nonproduction. When you penalize production you get nonproduction … specialize in production and everybody wins. Reward it.”
You may wonder how or why you would reward nonproduction, but we actually see that every day. It is often in the form of paying overtime to employees who are not efficient. Unfortunately, that is a costly game to play. Sometimes we penalize production by asking the most productive and efficient employees to do work to make up for the nonproductive staff. Rather than rewarding nonproduction, we can create a game where everyone wins.
The first step in conducting the game is to decide to do it. That sounds simple, but it is a vital first step. Often business owners say they want to play the game of staff incentives, but somehow the game never quite gets off the ground.
After you have actually made the commitment to play this game, you need to look at how you are going to reward your staff. You can calculate how much increase the game will bring in and take a percentage of that as bonuses. One possibility is to allocate a percentage of increased profits to the game. This way you know you’ll have money for rewards and some extra for the business.
Next, it’s important to communicate with your employees. A good way to do this is with a staff meeting or brainstorming session. You need to determine and communicate your goals – and you want to find out what your employees want. What would you like to see done in the business? Do you want to increase new clients, reduce waste, or increase total productivity? Brainstorm with your staff and ask them what they would like to see changed. Most people like to help, and your employees may have some excellent suggestions.
The result of your staff meeting should be some agreements with regard to the game. For example, you say “I want production to increase $2,000 per week for four weeks in a row. If this is done you will receive a $300 bonus.” Or perhaps you determine that your crews will get bonuses based on early completion, which should also add up to extra profit for you.
There are many different kinds of rewards. Although many employees would like to receive money as compensation, some would rather have something else. Examples include a weekend get-away, a dinner for two, maybe a party, or even just an extra day off.
As follow-up to your staff meeting you must tell the group the name of the game and what the rewards will be. Although your game doesn’t really need a name, naming it might add that much fun. Put the rules in writing to prevent problems before they occur. Include: Who is eligible? What is the goal? What is the reward? When does the game start and end? When do staff members receive their rewards?
Next, it’s time to root for the home team. Cheer them on by being enthusiastic about winning the game. Remind your staff about the game and reassure them.
Have fun and make sure everyone can win – that means your employees, your clients and you.
About the author: Lorraine Hart is the president and senior consultant for Ideal Consulting Services who have been providing business consulting, coaching and training to small businesses in the construction industry since 1992. She is a national member of NARI and is also a regular contributor to the Texas Home and Garden blog and the coordinator and editor of the weekly home articles for the Houston Chronicle. Lorraine can be reached at 832-569-5079 or www.idealconsulting.net.