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Strategic Discipline Blog

Metrics Need Positive Reinforcement

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Jul 11, 2011

Practicing Strategic Discipline requires you to develop metrics and then monitor the results you expect.  You can expect improvement in performance simply by measuring and reporting them back based on Pearson’s Law.  Yet how do you ensure your people continue to improve their performance consistently.  The key is to reward them as quickly as you can when their performance improves.  After all Aubrey Daniels notes in Bringing Out the Best in People, “if people are not told they are appreciated they will assume the opposite.”describe the image

Tuesday evening I did some basketball officiating with my oldest son serving as scorekeeper.  When we finished on the drive home together we discussed how good it feels to get paid immediately in cash after you’ve worked.   Nothing really compares.  When work and get paid a week or a month later it doesn’t have the same feeling as getting paid, especially in cash, immediately after you’ve done the work.

One of the companies I worked for a very short period of time as a salesperson, IPA, understood this very well.  International Profits Associates is a management consulting company that has a less than stellar reputation.  My short term with this company is something I probably wouldn’t put on a resume because of this; however they did understand the incentive and motivation of giving immediate rewards for efforts expended to their salespeople.  At the close of most weeks they would offer any salesperson that made a sale and scheduled an appointment for the following week an increase in their commission from 50 – 65% to full commission.  In other words instead of getting half of what you sold you get the full amount.  Better yet, you’d receive that commission check by the next day! 

This practice and how often we as officials get paid for short gigs in the summer and weekend basketball tournaments is a reminder of the rule to reward your employees as immediately as you can for the activity you would like to see them improve or increase.  If you reward them too late you may be reinforcing the wrong thing.  People will increase doing whatever they are rewarded for.  In addition that good feeling breeds motivation and enthusiasm.

Getting paid immediately after doing something is good for your employee and for you.  It makes your employee feel good and it makes them want to do what they achieved again sooner so they can get rewarded again.  That pays big dividends for you!   

Most businesses get results through negative reinforcement.  Don’t think you are guilty of negative reinforcement?  Will look at five clues that indicate negative reinforcement is present in my next blog.  

Topics: Bringing Out the Best In People, positive reinforcement, Pearsons Law, metrics

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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