Well... I’m here this morning. No Mayan disasters struck and @TrishMcfarlane and I made it through an hour without triggering the apocalypse. It may have been just dumb luck – but I’m guessing it was the loyal fan base built by @SteveBoese and the @HR_Minion that kept us from completely falling apart.
Thanks to all the callers and the very active backchannel on twitter.
First off - Mea Culpa - I screwed up and forgot to play the closing ad from Aquire – the show sponsor – sorry folks. Check out Aquire here – the provide workforce planning and analytics solutions that win awards! www.aquire.com -the sponsor for #HRHappyHour - wouldn't be possible without them.
The Play By Play...
First – for those that want to listen to the full show is here (a bit over an hour – stay past the hour mark, there is a good question before we shut down) or simply click the play button in the player to the right.
You can see the twitter back channel here at twapperkeeper.
The Highlight Reel...
All props to Trish who kept the hour moving and made sure we kept focused and on track. She was the perfect co-host in that she represents the HR person who is typically tasked with putting together the “motivation” or the “recognition” program for a company. She asked some great questions – questions that are on the minds of many an HR person.
Below are my top takeaways from the hour-plus conversation...
You Are Not the Motivation Department
I’m thinking I didn’t do the best job because I started the show by saying no one can motivate anyone. You can influence, you can provide an incentive – but motivation is individual and internal. But at the end of the night there was a tweet that said something along the lines of “HR shouldn’t be in charge of motivation because they themselves are too cynical.”
So I guess the idea that HR isn’t in charge of motivation – that no one is – didn’t really come across.
One more time – you are not in charge of motivation. You can only allow people to be motivated but you can’t do it... a program can’t do it. HR needs to take that off their list.
Instead - put this on the list – Train managers on how to “do” effective recognition. Train Managers on how to design effective incentive programs (not motivation programs – incentive programs.)
Those two things are, and continue to be, the biggest roadblocks keeping companies from really being fun and engaging places to work. Managers don’t know how to recognize people and they don’t know how to identify the behaviors they want and provide appropriate incentives.
HR – spend your time there.
Cash VS Other Awards
Our first question from the audience – “I want cash. Why do we need the other stuff?” Always a perennial favorite for people like me who plan and design reward programs.
The short answer – cash is great but it is addictive, fleeting and cold. Cash creates a transactional relationship and can create a negative when withdrawn. It is a very blunt motivational instrument. People always say they want cash. But the goal of any program is to balance what people want versus what people need and what the company needs and just giving people what they say they want isn’t always in the company's or the individual’s best interest. The research is there. Cash is the reward of last resort. That assumes that you’re not paying slave wages. C’mon – they gotta make a living.
We spent a lot of time on the show talking about recognition and who should do it and how it should be done.
For the record – there is no right answer. All program design should be based on the company culture, the employee type/class/group you are working with and the goals of the program. There is no silver bullet. There is a place for cash, travel, gift cards and merchandise. It all depends on your goals and objectives and the company style.
As Trish smartly pointed out... don’t start with “we need an incentive program” start with “what do we want to accomplish – what are the goals.” Too often we look to “motivation” programs to solve a problem somewhere else. Make sure the system isn’t the problem. Rarely is the first cause for poor performance motivation.
Don’t apply best practices... they only work in the company that developed them. Instead look for best principles – broader concepts that can be redesigned for your particular business environment and culture.
We talked about designing company recognition at the top – with a strategic intent – and delivering it closer to the employee. An award from a faceless bureaucrat has less impact than one from one’s direct manager. Again – unless you have a culture where the top brass is accessible and personable and people want to get recognition from the top. The job of HR is to determine which of those approaches works best. All reward programs should be connected to the vision/values of the company – but it should also be connected to the day-to-day effort of the individual. That’s why I recommend design strategically – implement tactically.
We talked about “how much is too much” recognition. Again – too much of bad recognition is as bad as no recognition. Recognition needs to be timely, personal, genuine. If you can’t do that don’t do it at all. People see through disingenuous recognition quickly. That’s one thing you can’t fake. If done correctly recognition is something that we never tire of. No one ever got upset because someone else valued their work and their efforts.
How much is enough? Like the old Abraham Lincoln quote when asked how long a man’s legs should be – “long enough to reach the ground.” How much recognition do you need – enough to communicate you value the employee’s contribution.
We didn’t talk much about incentives. I’m guessing it is less of an issue for HR folks since incentives are typically focused more on specific department goals and very specific behaviors versus the overall company objectives.
However, incentives as opposed to recognition – should be designed closer to the employee class you’re trying to impact. In other words – sales managers should deign sales incentives – not HR. Sales managers understand the behaviors to target and the effort required. HR should allow the functional areas to design incentives (assuming of course they have been trained effectively.)
Whew... This is getting way too long...
Not unlike my ramblings on the show last night I’m going on and on here...
So – to get all the gooey goodness of #HRHappyHour - Listen to the show... provide some feedback here and remember...
Design Strategically – Recognize Tactically – Award Intelligently (hey... I just made that up...)