Incentive Planning – Not Just a Numbers Game

By Maria Forbes
February 2, 2021

Privately held businesses require structures for growth that are unique to their shared purpose and mission.  The methods for developing, engaging, and retaining small business teams begin with, and often remain an entrepreneurial approach to growth and sustainability.  Team members wear multiple hats, or toggle between roles as a cohesive effort toward growth and sustainability.
What is missing from your biz dev plan?  Specific data that will enable your team members to achieve their growth targets and their income targets.  When it comes to motivating employees to stretch beyond day-to-day responsibilities and incentive structures that will enable their success, there is fundamental data that must be part of the planning equation.
Knowing the stories of owner clients is a gift.  The incredible passion and stamina to become a viable and successful company tells us much about the personal capabilities that grew the business from day one to the present.  At the point of sustained success, owners have attempted to add new energy to business development efforts.  Sometimes new business responsibilities are integrated with existing roles like Financial Planner, Client Service Manager, and more.
We stand by our belief that everyone sells, all roles within your company have an influence on your client relationships, and those unique individual abilities should be considered in the growth plan.  We also recognize that adding new responsibilities to a role must be well-planned in order for employees to succeed long-term.  Consider a clear distinction of roles and responsibilities, to avoid overwhelming employees as you achieve and sustain success.  Your employees should have the benefit of a well-defined Role Map, that illustrates a clear path to personal and professional growth.

No, this is not just for the big guys!  Small business teams can get lost in the complexities of your shared mission and growth.  Without a clear line of sight to how they can make their best contributions, the risk of burnout, boredom, and eventual separation increases.
You have most likely heard the phrase; what got you here, won’t get you to the future. This is true, and the message is an opportunity to examine your current workforce; their satisfaction in their current roles, their freedom to contribute, and their desire to contribute uniquely to business growth.

Incentivize! This method of getting your team’s creative energies flowing is not just a numbers game.

When leaders don’t get the results they want, incentives are explored to spur on motivation.  A sales plan that enables new business contributors to meet both the company growth goal and a personal income goal is good, if the required actions work for the employee. The reason for performance fluctuation is often rooted in something other than financial targets and growth outcomes.  A missing component of incentive planning for any role in your company is defining more than the role.  The natural method of execution is a valid indicator of how an individual contributor will approach challenge.  Individual methods of execution will enable the successful achievement of outcomes or it will impede their ability to meet goals. There is significant impact from misalignment of target outcomes with an employee’s method of execution.
Even with mutual agreement on incentive plan targets, if planned outcomes do not match the natural method of execution, the person in the role is impaired. They have to work harder to get things done.  Working against the grain, an employee will be slower to act, be less productive, their energy can fluctuate, and performance is unreliable.  An unfortunate scenario for both you and your employee.
The right match of an individual’s natural approach to challenge with incentive goals will enable an employee to succeed beyond your expectations. When the required actions are synergistic with the way an employee needs to perform his/her best work, you have your best opportunity for success.

It is important to look toward the future, to determine the specific people strengths your company needs now, and every year, and to take time at regular frequency to examine how incentives should be designed.  Not just a numbers game, financial targets and growth outcomes require the right individual execution methods to succeed. Consider the missing data point in incentive planning, instinctive method of execution.  Design incentive plans that will work for both your company and your employees.

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