Hi, I’m Lynn Randall with Randall Insights and I’d like to talk about what makes or breaks a successful incentive program.

First of all, constant improvement. Today’s excitement becomes tomorrow’s expectation and a successful incentive program has to keep fresh. It’s ideas, communications and rewards.

Complacency is the enemy to your top achievers and it should be the enemy to your incentive program as well. Also, score keeping and accountability. There are many ways to get more sophisticated about defining a program’s success and then measuring the success in a timely, meaningful way. If an incentive program falters and there’s nobody that notices, what chances there of recapturing success?

Two other important considerations are, first of all, understanding the unique human drivers of your incentive program participants. It very well just might not be the stuff or a trip that primarily motivates your participants’ behavior, but something else that makes them different and special in your organization. It might just be providing them with the productivity enhancement they need to boost their performance beyond its current level and that might be their primary driver.

The other is fairness. Subjectivity in your incentive structure is the enemy of success. If your program or rules are perceived in any way by participants to be unfair, then your entire program is anchored to a foundation of distrust.

I recently saw a perfect quote on this very subject from Walter McFarland of Georgetown University. He says, “Great human performance isn’t just about compensation systems, performance assessment techniques or more effective employee development. It’s about how these and other factors combine to provide purpose, fairness and meaning in work.”