Madison Performance Group

Most training experts believe there is a simple process for getting the most from their learning:

  1. Identify business objectives
  2. Partner with stakeholders to design a learning curriculum
  3. Determine performance requirements and establish goals
  4. Develop and execute a measurement plan

Sounds easy enough. Yet, something very important is missing.  How about reinforcing the desired outcomes?

Did you know this is the number one reason why most training initiatives fail to have the desired impact on the business?  The problem isn’t the curriculum, or the instructors, or anything else on that list. It’s because the learned behaviors are not rewarded when they are put into action. In other words, no reinforcement mechanisms are put in place.

Companies spend millions of dollars every year on training and development. Depending on the size and scope of your organization, that investment can equate to hundreds—if not thousands of dollars—per person every year.

For a fraction of your overall spend you can reinforce learning by rewarding “knowledge in action”. Better yet, you can pre-calculate the payout of the rewards you use so it represents a modest proportion of the incremental gains you achieved from the training investment. In other words, you can justify reward funding from the same “business case logic” you used to support the learning investment in the first place. You can also complement the measurement requirements by rewarding only against the specific outcomes that you promised during your request for funding.

Rewards and recognition are essential to the success of training. They not only motivate employees and sales people to put new skills into action; they also provide the mechanisms you need to connect the return on your training’s investment to the business returns you promised management.

Why are some employees more emotionally committed to their jobs while others look at it as just a paycheck? Why do some workers apply themselves at higher levels while others skate along?

The difference often comes down to how aligned employees feel with the company’s mission and whether or not they find their work enjoyable. When you look at one poll that measures both, it’s easy to understand why only one third of all workers describe themselves as engaged in their work.

According to a chart recently published in The New York Times, only 25% feel connected to their company’s mission while only 33% of all employees actually enjoy what they do. Companies should address those gaps immediately.

There really is no reason why employees should not buy into the business’s reason for being. It’s a simple matter of communication and reinforcement. Let employees know what the company’s goals are and how they fit into achieving them. Reinforce the value of every employee by acknowledging their efforts and rewarding their contributions. Help each employee see themself as a vital part of the big picture. Do so and you will see them align themselves more and more —their mindsets and their efforts—accordingly.

Then there is the issue of work being enjoyable. No one is saying that work needs to be fun all the time. After all they call it work for a reason. But studies show that when your environment is built upon mutual respect, trust and—wait for it—appreciation, employees are more likely to find fulfillment in what they do and that translates into more of them enjoying it.

Enjoyment and alignment are two things that can be addressed by using recognition more often. It’s the easiest, fastest and most sensible way to address those two building blocks of employee engagement.

A recent blog on Yahoo offered up 5 Reasons You’re Not as Great a Manager as You Think. Each omission they listed (failing to give your undivided attention, being unavailable, overworking your teams, not listening and/or not sharing information) is a behavior any good manager would want to correct immediately. However, the article did not hit  the number on the deficiency of less-than-effective managers—not recognizing your employees enough.

Rewarding and recognizing employees who have done a great job for you is the best way to sustain their efforts. Managers who use recognition to reinforce an employee’s attitudes and actions get the most out of the talent assigned to them. They get employees to buy into their visions faster; they get employees to give more of themselves (even when they are loaded up with work) and they build teams that collaborate with one another.

Then there is the long view. The fundamental difference between a great manager and all the others is that the best ones are not simply focused on a series of tasks or deliverables, they are looking long-term. They know their responsibilities include nurturing and developing talent. The good ones use rewards and other types of reinforcement techniques to encourage an employee’s growth and help them see how they fit in over the long haul.

So why don’t more managers recognize their employees? For starters the companies they work for have not indicated that it’s a priority. They have not implemented any supporting systems designed to help them do so.

Madison can help here. Our SaaS solution can be up and running in no time. Its configurable design will allow managers to select, acknowledge and reward individuals or teams with just a few key strokes.

Want to turn all your managers into great ones? Give us a call and we’ll show you how easy the first steps to doing so are.

With all the talk of gamification these days it’s only fitting that the modern day employer/employee relationship has gained the same handle as one of the most popular computer games of all time.

Reid Hoffman (co-founder and Chairman of LinkedIn) who just penned the new book, “The Start Up of You” suggests that employee loyalty is a thing of the past and that employees should now look at jobs in short increments. “Tours of duty” is the term he uses.

Tongue-in-cheek pop culture references aside, Hoffman’s point is well taken especially among the younger generation. They switch jumps every two and a half years or so. Some millennials have already embraced the mindset that jobs are mere stepping stones on a greater career path. That way of thinking should be a wakeup call to employers everywhere.

There is no question that top talent will be at a premium in the near future. I’d argue that it already is. Even though net new monthly job creation hovers at the 200K mark, millions of positions go unfulfilled. Employers are being very selective in filling them. Frankly, they are targeting your top players. Leave those employees feeling unappreciated and they will start entertaining offers.

I’ve heard the new labor economy called a “free agent nation”. For employees who think like that (and many do) companies need to reinforce that they are valuable. They need to remind them why their present situation is the better option. Rewarding goals as they are achieved is one way to do that. Rewards will help your top people see how they fit in today, and remind them that their efforts will pay off over the long haul.  Rewards and recognition can take a tour of duty and turn it into a long career.

Are your sales people winning the battle for mind share with their busy prospects? Not likely. Several studies have confirmed that when sales people lose theydon’t lose on price. This is the issue they say they lose on, but the reality is more nuanced. Most lose because they fail to provide a level of value early and upfront during the client’s decision process at a level that exceeds the price they are asking for and that’s why they are perceived as too expensive.

Many sales people mistakenly believe that prospective clients care about what they have to offer. That’s not only self-centered—it’s way off the mark. The truth is that people care about their own problems. They are not interested in you until they feel that you are interested in them. The packaging, positioning and delivering of useful information and insight throughout the client’s buying process is the only way to earn the coveted role of trusted advisor—the person with whom prospects will want to do business. The person they trust to help them solve those critical business issues that they care about.

So how can you help your reps achieve this? It’s simple when you have the most configurable sales incentive software in the business. Program planners can set objectives that reinforce value-driven behaviors throughout the prospecting, discovery, detailing and presentation stages of any sales cycle. That built in flexibility helps their sales ops sponsors reinforce selling behaviors that drive results.

The flexibility doesn’t stop there. The goals can be tied to specific data driven results or they can be based on a manager’s or even a client’s observation. Either way, you will be promoting the types of activities that generate trust and credibility with prospects—activities that build trust, shorten sales cycles and increase close rates.