Adventures In Innovation

Here's where I chronicle my journeys and share what's on my mind. Consider every entry an open invitation to connect with me and continue the conversation.

Shifting To Merit Based Benefits

Inspired By Sean Ellis On 5/15/20

How do you motivate teams that must adhere to strict schedule and work environment policies like bankers or call center staff? I believe successful productivity systems support merit benefits because they account for effort and outcomes. All too often discussions about implementing demerit and punishment-based policies happen long before ones about merit benefits. Inherently this means rewarding and empowering professional progress are afterthoughts. Leading to ineffective productivity systems that divide and destroy teams, causing the best members to move on and demoralizing those that stay. These systems also have a nasty habit of doubling-down whenever dominoes begin to fall. Here's how a merit-based system and 15 minutes of flex time a week can help change that.

A system created around merit benefits shifts the paradigm from what is lost to what is gained. In practice, this system supports both high and low performers alike. While motivating those in the middle with additional benefit opportunities when they improve in key performance areas. For high performers, perhaps they gain an additional 15-minute break. While lower performers will gain a 15 minute 1-on-1 coaching session with their team lead or manager. This system also allows high performers to volunteer their 15-minute break to coach a lower-performing peer. Peer training tends to be more approachable and it gives the high performer experience handling more advanced responsibilities. Giving them the power to invest that time back into bettering the business.

Keeping track of these merits overtime also helps identify and fast track staff ready for the next step. This approach gains better traction with teams because they can see how their performance and decisions directly translate to their advancement. Best of all, a merit-based system encourages the kind of qualities that great leaders possess. Although shifts in corporate culture and supporting policy take time, they ultimately create environments that amplify and focus motivation. Giving the gift of motivation and making it easy to tap into is one of the best ways to build resilient, driven teams.

So what does giving this gift cost? Investing an extra 15 minutes a week into each employee and a steady supply of snacks for the team lead or manager to hand out. Along with merits of course. While there is tangible overhead associated with this practice — approximately 12.5 hours (15 minutes x 50 workweeks / 60 minutes = 12.5 hours) a year of additional training per team member — investing in individualized training and positive reinforcement are components of a great culture. I just published a case study about increasing productivity by 41%. Therein I share a few tips for developing more proactive and productive teams. Enjoy!