It's settled. You are going to implement a rewards program for your company to reach its goals. The rewards have been established and the desired results have been communicated to the program participants, aka your employees. The work is done right? After all, you just have to wait until the end of the year to worry about the results and rewarding those who achieved their goals right?
Not exactly. Good recognition programs don't focus on modifying results - they focus on modifying behaviors.
So how do you modify those behaviors?
One of the most effective ways to modify behaviors instead of just results is to make your program reward incremental achievements and focusing in on the small things that eventually create the big picture. When the smaller baby steps aren't being done correctly, the desired end result has a decreased chance of occurring. On Twitter last week, @Globoforce described this concept beautifully:
"Evaluating performance only once a year is the equivalent of letting students skip all the lectures and take the final."
In my college English class, our main project was a 15-20 page research paper. Our professor described the expectations of the assignement to us in the first week of the semester. He didn't just say "go" and leave it to us to do just the final draft. We had smaller due dates for smaller portions of the paper. We were graded on our topic proposals, drafts and bibliography pages. The deadlines for the tiny pieces of the project ultimately helped most people achieve much more successful results once the final (big picture) project was turned in.
Evaluating performance and rewarding incremental results helps identify what your employees are doing right and wrong helps drive behaviors to meet and exceed your anticipated bottom line. Waiting until the end result to evaluate doesn't do as well to identify which areas everyone needs improvement in to exceed those goals in the future. Point-based programs do well in these settings. Rewarding smaller amounts of points over time will allow your employees to save those points and eventually redeem them for a bigger prize later on. A bigger prize they have earned from doing several little things right. This improves not only your bottom line but their chances for seeing success in the rewards program.
What do you think? Reward baby steps or focus more on the big picture?