As you sow so shall you reap?
Have you ever seen a change initiative struggle? Or have you ever had difficulty getting the traction or keeping the momentum behind an idea that you are trying to implement with your team or business? Most of us can see what needs changed, some can see how to initiate that change, but not all of us can see how to maintain the change once the programme is going.
You’ve probably heard the maxim ‘What gets measured gets done’. I’ve always found that it is one of the keys to maintaining momentum in change. Keep an eye on the progress of all the measures associated with, not only the targeted outcomes of the change initiative, but the inputs and activities that you have decided will drive those changes. This means that you always have something that keeps people connected to the change and reinvigorated when necessary.
But I’ve often found that measures are not enough and that the maxim is not always true, and that leads me to think that there is another side to this maxim.
A few years ago I was asked to talk with an organisation that was well down the path of changing their business model. They had moved from a regional sales model to a national model and like most organisations at that time were able to do so with the advent of improved telecommunications and call centre technology. That meant that they could make their change while still maintaining their regionalised employees. This should have meant that they got the best of both worlds, local knowledge where required and minimising of downtime that would happen in a purely regional call centres .
They had put in all their measures throughout the call centre’s but were not seeing any real traction. In fact what they were seeing still reflected a regional approach to sales and support. The natural conversation was around changing mindsets and how to do that.
Then I asked the question ‘How are the regional GM’s rewarded?’.
I’d noted that they had retained the existing structure with the previous regional GM’s leading the staff in the regional offices to meet the new national vision and measures. I was beginning to wonder if, from the staff perspective, there had been no change (same boss, same office, same job etc.).
The answer to the question was ‘ Their bonus is based on the sales and service figures for the region’. It turned out that there had been some contractual difficulty involved with changing the GM’s reward structure so it wasn’t changed. After all these were senior people, they’d bought in to the strategy and the vision hadn’t they?
On such a decision and such a sweeping belief a highly expensive change initiative was floundering. By assuming that leaders would put the business before their pockets they’d missed the basic’s of incentivised pay. The leaders were leading the organisation in line with the incentives first and the national measures second.
So the measures meant nothing, because the incentives weren’t linked to the measures.
Look at your organisations struggles today and ask yourself ‘am I rewarding the things that I am asking my leaders to deliver?’ If you want profit don’t just reward on market share or volume. If you want engaged people do you have some reward linked to the measures or actions involved in your engagement strategy. If you want quality make sure you don’t just pay on output.
Our maxim should be ‘Incentivise what you measure and it gets done’.