Monday, 30 March 2009

Time Off for Exceptional Behaviour

I have long since been a fan of setting staff stretch objectives. The basic objectives are what good performance look like but the stretch objectives, aimed at encouraging staff members to go the extra mile, represent exceptional performance. While some employees, especially those who are ambitious, will be driven to achieve their stretch objectives, others will be content to merely deliver good performance.

The problem has often been how to motivate staff to push themselves to achieve these stretch objectives. The 'what's in it for me?' syndrome. I first used stretch objectives way back when I was running sales teams and the motivation was simple - money. The more you sell, the more you earn. This could also be spiced up by adding an element of internal competition.

But what about all those support staff where financial bonuses cannot be so readily applied, at least in the short-term. How do you motivate these people to strive for exceptional performance? There are of course the longer-term elements that relate to career progression and in today's climate, one could even suggest job security as a motivating factor. But these are often not immediate enough to act as driving forces on a day-to-day basis. So here's a quick-win tool you might want to try out - Time Off Vouchers.

Let's be clear, this is not time off for doing merely a good job, that is, the job you are being paid to do. But what I am suggesting is giving staff time off for doing an exceptional job by going the extra mile and delivering above and beyond the call of duty. Maybe someone who delivers all of their stretch objectives in a month can win a half day off. That's valuable to people. An afternoon of pampering, shopping, golf or whatever as a reward for exceptional effort and performance.

And what impact will that have on the rest of the team? Make a point of asking the successful team member(s) if they had a good afternoon off, ask them what they did - make a big deal of it. And at your next one-to-one with the other team members make it clear what they have to do to win a time off voucher. Let them know what their stretch objectives are and what exceptional performance looks like. Then, it is up to them if they want to push themselves and gain the reward and kudos that will accompany the extra effort.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

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