There is a difference between incentives and recognition, and there are performance behaviors you need to analyze before applying each. Discover “the why” that supports those tactics; knowing this will be different for every organization and taking the time to understand what drives desired behaviors will guide the strategies and tactics required to thrive.

The Difference Between Recognition and Incentives

Recognition is like the gutters in the bowling alley. If you keep the ball between those two sides – you’ll score points. In other words, recognition represents fixed and constant parts of your organization. Recognition should attack those things you hope never change – behaviors, values, and attitudes like honesty, ethics, mission, and value. As long as you stay between the gutters of these things, recognition is a powerful tool.

Incentive, on the other hand, is represented by the arrows on the floor of that bowling alley. You use the arrows to guide your direction. In other words, you apply specific interventions to desired outcomes.

What Behaviors Drive Performance?

But determining whether your organization needs recognition or incentive is a tactical discussion. Before you get to tactics, you want to ask a key question: What drives performance in your organization?

It often seems that organizations are looking for that “silver bullet” to drive engagement or retention – but there really isn’t a simple formula to follow. Every organization and culture requires its own set of strategies and tactics to drive behaviors, performance, and results.

Look within your culture to determine those behaviors, performances, and results. Take the top five people in your company – and find out what they’re doing differently. Those are the behaviors that should stay. What are people who are underperforming doing differently? Analyze those behaviors.”

The goal is for companies to understand that it’s not as simple as putting a recognition or incentive program into place. Human beings are the most variable resource a company has. Understand your culture, then apply the strategies and tactics that make a difference.

One of the key things that companies learn from customizing initiatives to meet the culture is that it’s not simply about rewarding the top 5% of sales performers. Until people focus on the “why” of incentive and recognition, you’re going to get confused clients and non-effective programs.

 

Do you know what drives performance at your organization?

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