I'm always looking for ways to influence behavior in a positive way to help my clients achieve their business objectives. Incentive programs typically leverage awards as the primary (and in many cases the only) way to get someone to change their behavior. I also believe that awards is one of the bluntest tools in the tool box. I like to look at some of the psychological ways we can influence behavior. I've commented before on Dr. Robert Cialdini's book Influence: Science and Practice and how it simply outlines different psychological triggers we can use to help move behavior in a specific direction.
One of these triggers is "consensus" or "social proof." If someone else is doing it then it must be the right thing to do. I was reminded of this the other day when I read this Fast Company article on Warren Buffet's response to backdating stock options. He's quoted as saying that the words
"...Everybody else is doing it..."
may be the five most dangerous words in business today. While this is reference the negative practice of backdating stock options it is telling that Warren Buffet thinks that the "consensus" principle of influence is so potent he took the time to write a memo to all 200,000 employees of his company.
How are companies leveraging this important influencer in their recognition, incentive and rewards strategies?