Apolo Ohno: Dedication For His Day Job

Former Dancing With the Stars champion Apolo Anton Ohno spent the last six months immersing himself with training for the Vancouver Olympics.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention that he was a five-time Olympic medalist in speed skating.

After turning down what he called several "green lights" from Hollywood, Ohno decided to spend his time working relentlessly at his day job of speed skating. He's done three-a-day workouts, studied race footage and has overall become a student of his occupation. Blocking out distractions, he has done everything he can to succeed at his job.

But why?

For that Olympic gold. He spends all that time training for an event that only lasts a few minutes or less. All for one shiny medallion after it's all said and done. An Olympic medal is Ohno's carrot for motivation and Vancouver is holding the stick. It's not just the tangible medal that he's striving for. It's the recognition associated with it. The praise and pat on the back for a job well done to go with his prize makes all that work and dedication completely worth it.

How often do employees put in the same dedication to their job? It's rare to hear of someone putting forth that much work and effort into what they do for a living. Sure, there are different ultimate aspirations and your company's accountant is not likely going to have their face on a Wheaties box at the end of the day. However, it often takes more than just the base salary to garner that extra dedication into an employee's work. Incentives programs, designed to fit the employees' specific needs, will help root out complacency in day-to-day work. Rewards accompanied by an equally appropriate amount of recognition can do wonders for performance and influencing work behavior.

The Olympics, winter and summer, are an example of the trophy value continuum done on a grand scale. How are you influencing employee behavior?