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Case Study (Incentives): Working in Teams

Submitted by  on June 4th, 2014

Red jigsaw puzzle tile with word TeamworkThis is the third in a series of mini-case studies showing how three different companies used their rewards system to motivate employees to apply new skills after they completed a training course. The first in the series illustrated an accounting firm rolling out harassment prevention training while the second involved an electronics company implementing a new inventory management system. In this final case study, the two owners of an auto repair shop are introducing self-managed teams.

Many organizations fail to get the maximum benefit from their training programs by neglecting to provide that extra pull that can be got from a well-designed rewards program. In fact, poorly designed incentive schemes often reward counterproductive behaviors. Not all employees catapult ahead with high degrees of internal motivation. And those that are self-motivated can have their motivation dampened by organizational roadblocks. Many employees change their way of working and go on to perform well because of the incentives placed before them. Through the actions that it recognizes and rewards, organizations send a very clear message about what it truly values.

Incentives is one of eight factors in Leslie Allan’s PRACTICE Approach™ for improving the impact of training. Find out more and get Leslie’s high impact training guide.

This final case study concerns a large mechanical repair shop planning to reorganize the work of mechanics and support staff into self-managed work teams. The owners wanted each team to comprise of five mechanics specializing in particular types of motorcar, a parts inventory clerk and a scheduler. By dealing directly with customers, scheduling their own work, managing their own performance issues, selecting and recruiting new members, and so on, the owners were expecting improved customer focus and increased efficiency. To kick the process off, each employee was scheduled to attend a Working in Teams training program over a two week period.

The owners recognized that in the short-term company performance will worsen as everyone gets accustomed to the new way of working and strives to hone their skills. They put in a lot of thought about how the changes would play out. In an effort to accommodate the sizable adjustments that everyone would be expected to make, they pushed out their previous “bottom-line” 30% improvement in pre-tax profit target to three years hence. The owners also considered a move to profit sharing with senior managers beyond year three of the program. Introducing profit sharing before that, they felt, would only encourage senior managers to perpetuate the old structures for short-term gain.

Furthermore, the owners expected employee attrition to peak as people who find the more collaborative way of working distressing leave the company. With that in mind, the owners targeted their goal of reducing voluntary turnover by 20% on current levels for the following year. Employee attrition became just one of a number of high-level leading measures in the mix of criteria for determining senior manager end-of-year performance bonuses.

For the lower levels in the new structure, the owners employed a number of leading measures to provide a window into the depth of the underlying changes to systems and behaviors. These measures and the resulting targets were not heavily business focused, as the owners wanted to concentrate on encouraging people to experiment and get comfortable with the new required behaviors.

Two “outcomes” for which the owners wanted to financially reward each team were:

  • at least 90% of team members successfully complete all of the training modules
  • increase the number of repeat customers by 40%

The plan was to reward each team achieving these targets with a certificate of achievement and a cash bonus during an end of year company-wide celebratory dinner.

Other leading measures introduced by the owners focused on the demonstrated behaviors of team members. A paper-based 360-degree questionnaire was distributed to all team members of each team to elicit the extent that team members were displaying the new behaviors. These behaviors included ability to listen, managing customer expectations, punctuality at meetings, providing honest feedback, and so on. The information gained from the survey will be used to provide valuable feedback to each team member. Teams that achieved a minimum average score of 4.0 and teams that showed the most improvement since the last survey will be awarded special certificates and treated to a team dinner by a company executive.

The company owners also appreciated that regular feedback to each team member and informal displays of appreciation from the team leaders are essential for ingraining the new team behaviors. An important part of the team leader training consisted in skilling them in providing timely and accurate feedback and drawing out the best in team members through using a variety of motivational techniques.

This case study illustrates again a multi-faceted approach to motivating employees. A combination of financial and non-financial incentives was targeted at managerial, supervisory and front-line employee levels within the company. Businesses can increase the chance of success for their training program through having a well thought-out and consistent system of incentives. Properly designed employee rewards magnify the benefits of the other elements of workplace performance support.

High Impact Training Guide

If you want to create the right learning environment for effective transfer of training to the employee’s workplace, then check out Leslie Allan’s high impact training guide, From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance. Learn proven strategies and techniques for finding performance roadblocks, aligning training to real needs, developing training partnerships, engaging learners and maximizing learning transfer. Find out more about From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance and download the free introductory chapter today.

Posted in Performance, Training | Comments (1)

One Response to “Case Study (Incentives): Working in Teams”

  1. Kristeen Bullwinkle Says:

    I’ve been working with a new team assessment and wondering about how management tends to rewards individuals–not teams. That the people just don’t know how to reward teams fairly and subjectively. The new Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team assessment and program require a significant investment of time on the part of the team. They need to practice trusting, mining for constructive conflict, etc. I love the idea of running a 360 to see if people are actually changing their behaviors after the facilitated trainings.

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