Is This Incentive Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?
From time to time a reader will send me some interesting tidbit from the web as post fodder. Just to let you know – I love it! After almost 5 years of blogging you start to get a bit hungry for new items to write about. I can’t just pick on Dan Pink all the time – that’s just mean.
The other day Heather Rolette – Manager of Hosted events for SAP send me a link to an article about Just Born – the company that makes those candies you love to hate or hate to love – Peeps, Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales. Ah... the standard fare of most megaplex theaters.
Seems Just Born put in place an interesting incentive program that I don’t know how to evaluate. I know – a first.
The Back Story – Fargo or Bust!
Here’s the recap from the story on Yahoo...
"The company that makes Hot Tamales candy offered its sales team an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii if it met its annual goals, and a trip to the nation's arctic tundra if it didn't.
The Just Born team did not meet its target and, on Tuesday, about two dozen salespeople gathered inside the 19-story Radisson hotel — the tallest building in frozen Fargo.
Outside, the temperature was 7 degrees. The ground had 2 feet of snow.
Not exactly Hawaii: Honolulu was sunny, and a comfortable 82 degrees.
In addition to the lovely weather they were treated to an all-you-can eat spaghetti dinner at the local VFW, winery tours (who knew Fargo –wine country) and a screening of the movie Fargo, in Fargo. They also took some time to do a little company PR by handing out candy to the locals.
As one “winner” said... "As a team, this is something we will never forget," Bayha [a Just Born manager] said. "Twenty to 30 years down the road, when we see each other, we're going to say, 'Remember Fargo?'"
So here’s my dilemma... on the surface I’d never recommend a program where you have an award for attainment and then a punishment for non-attainment. It’s so Glengarry Glen Ross (steak knives anyone?) On the other hand – they did have a sales increase of 2% (Hawaii was earned at 4%) – so there was some performance bump.
I don’t know the details of why the goal wasn’t met – could have been economy, could have been something else. I’m also not sure how they communicated the program or how they count sales – all things that could impact the results.
What I do know is this - punishment may probably have been the best thing they could have done.
Building Shared Experiences
Sales teams and their companies need to trust each other. Trust is one of those things that grows incredibly strong through shared experiences – shared hardships even more so. Just Born gave their sales people a punishment that brought them closer together, created a cultural touchstone that will be talked about and referenced for a long, long time. The trip to Fargo probably created a more cohesive and purpose-driven team than any trip to Hawaii could have.
Now the article doesn’t mention whether spouses were part of the Hawaii package (it would seem from the copy in the article they were not in attendance in Fargo) – which could have impacted the performance as well. I know if I had the chance to earn a trip to Hawaii without my wife – there might be some pressure from home to NOT work to hard – especially if there are a couple of single, beauty contest winners on the sales staff (Have you seen me? It is a real concern for my wife – it is my curse.)
So – here’s where I land on this...
Normally – not a good idea to create a “losers’ award.”
But – in this case they may have started something that will continue to drive team performance in the future. They have already planned next year’s event – Rapid City, SD – if they fall below sales targets. Unfortunately, this year's trip may have been so much fun – they could just take a dive so they can repeat the experience in Rapid City.
What do you all think? It might make more sense now to make Hawaii the award for the loser’s bracket.
I’m (another first) at a loss for words... You guys take if from here...
Oh... and just for fun - who knew there as such a thing as Peep Jousting... (email and RSS subscribers may have to click through here to see embedded video...)