Healthy Competition At Work?

Your boss just came up with a great new incentive for the 4th quarter sales team – a competition!

… I feel your pain.

At first you are open to hearing what’s on the table and what the criteria is, but you KNOW certain senior sales people have this one in the bag. WAIT! It’s based on … new business … hmmmm. Have you done enough seeding? Maybe you CAN get that extra bonus carrot dangling on the December stick.

  • You start with energy and optimism,
  • which soon drifts into frustration
  • then denial
  • then depression
  • then anger … 

What the heck??? This was supposed to be an incentive! Why do competitions turn into a dis-incentive? Why do they alienate some of the sales people with the greatest hearts for their clients and elevate sales people who just don’t care?

Here’s the secret from Daniel Pink, author of “DRIVE The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”. If sales were simply a process – do this, then that, then this other thing to equal a sale – then a bonus incentive would work. If ANY creativity or higher thought is required, a bonus incentive will actually cause you to do worse. It’s been proven, the higher the pay incentive, the greater the failure will be. We will freeze and not do our best work until that incentive is over.

WHY???? Shouldn’t it work the exact opposite way?

Research study after research study around the world cannot be wrong. Behavioural science is telling us our boss just wants more sales and doesn’t care about the customer or the reflection upon the company.

That incentive will narrow your focus, cause you to become more systematic and linear, less of a problem solver and cause division and mistrust among your sales team. If you are a lone wolf and churn out sales without caring about solving real problems, you will be successful. Does that inspire client loyalty?

So, what do you do if you are a sales team member who wants to care about what you do, your credibility, your reputation and your purpose? You don’t want to fail, yet you know this incentive will mind-warp you into a downward spiral.

Think outside your box. Trick the system.

Try this (and tell me how it went!) If you care about your clients and know other sales people care about theirs:

  1. Pull those sales people into your own MasterMind meeting.
  2. Strategize how to boost eachother up, pull together to gather new sales and solve each others’ problems.
  3. Agree that whoever receives the bonus will share it with the team and what that will look like,
  4. Then examine each others’ strengths and be honest about weaknesses. Look to use your collective strengths to feed all your successes.
  5. Create S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals you will all enjoy working toward, divide the duties according to your strengths and have regular scheduled strategy sessions to keep each other motivated, on task and able to shift gears and respond to each others’ stumbling blocks.

“A rising tide lifts all boats.” ~ thoughtful slogan used by the New England Council before JFK’s speechwriter found it.

Why would you work in a company instead of for yourself, if you can’t pull together as a team for greater effectiveness?

Basically, you’ve formed a mini company, created a success strategy, motivated your team in a way your boss doesn’t understand and are using true leadership skills to create a win-win-win situation. You win with greater skills and higher sales, your fellow conspirators win with the same. You will likely kick all company sales figures with this strategy, your clients will be well taken care of, the company will be healthier and happier and those lone wolves … will wonder what just happened.

When it’s all done (and you’ve kicked some serious butt) THEN reveal the truth.

Show your boss the way healthy incentives could be set up for any work that requires innovation, problem solving and creativity. This kind of teamwork inspires! It will set your company apart as THE company clients want to do business with and good employees want to work for.

Want to learn more about leadership that works for TODAY’s workplaces? See Transforming Leadership or look into bringing Carol Carter to talk to your team about ways you can make your workplace rock all your 4th quarter dreams!

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