Tag Archives: organization

People Incentive Process

I was reminded the other day of some advice I gave in a mastermind group a while ago.  A business owner was having problems with absenteeism.  His business was small enough that when one person was off, the owner ended up doing that person’s job, leaving him no time or energy to do what he needed to do to grow his business.  Unfortunately for him, the absenteeism was getting to the point where someone was absent nearly every day.  I suggested he consider P.I.P, People, Incentive and Process.

The first thing to look at when there is a persistent and pervasive personnel problem in an organization, first look to People.  Very frequently, especially in small organizations, one or two people are the “bad apples” that are creating the environment that contributes to the entire organization’s underperformance.  I suggested that if one or two people are the major contributors to the absences, then he needed to let them go.  Not only would replacing them reduce their absences, it would help send a message to the rest of the team that attendance is required.  Next look to see if anyone is creating a hostile or unpleasant work environment.  That can contribute absences.  Then look to who are you hiring, where are you hiring them from and how are you vetting them.  There is something wrong with this process.  A great example is one of the college house painting companies.  It started when someone figured that most house painting happens in the summer and college kids need summer jobs.  He could give the kids jobs, paint houses and make money.  The college kids were not looking at house painting as a “real job” and weren’t showing up consistently.  Within a couple of summers, he went from having nearly 100% college kids to nearly no college kids.  He found that middle-aged laborers who had kids to feed at home showed up every day.

Next thing to look at is incentive.  Is there any incentive for showing up every day or, alternatively, disincentive for not showing up.  I remember reading an article about a company who had an absenteeism issue.  They started with a game.  For every pay period that you worked every scheduled day, you got a playing card.  After seven pay periods, they played a hand of 7 card stud.  The winner would get rewards like iPads, gas cards, a night out, etc.

Finally, look at process.  Basically, how do you handle the issue.  In this owner’s story, when someone was absent, he went and covered for them.  I suggested that if he was forced to live with a certain amount of absence, he needed to change his policy.  Options included having other employees cover the effort, hiring some floaters for his team, having some people on-call, etc.

Focus of effort chart

When pursuing a meaningful goal, there is simply too much to do.  The number of potential activities and tasks to take well outnumber the number of hours any one person has to do them.  A person trying to build there business needs to divide her time between selling, building her team, planning for the future, learning new skills, etc., etc., etc.  Something simply has to give.  She needs to prioritize her efforts.  Some things simply won’t get done, at least, not done in a timely manner.

A Focus of Effort Chart is a handy way to decide which tasks need to be prioritized.  Start by writing your goal across the top of a page.  Draw two vertical lines, creating three columns each about a third of the page wide.  On top of the column on the left write, “Things I can control.”  On top of the column on the right write, “Things I can NOT control.”  On top of the middle column write, “Things I can only influence.”  Now draw a horizontal line cross the middle of the page.  The top half of the page is for those tasks that will have a big impact on your goal.  The bottom half of the page is for those tasks that will have a small impact on your goal.

Now start filling in the chart with your action list (your goal based to-dos).  Those items in the “Things I can control” column that will have a big impact (top half of your page) are your high priority items.  These are the tasks you should do first.  Next look at the big impact “Things I can only influence” square.  Here you have to make a judgement call.  Since you have a lower level of control on these items, they are likely to require more effort for a similar level of result.  Does the amount of effort justify the impact?  If yes, these are higher priority items as well.  If not, then these items belong lower on the to-do list.  Those items under the “Things I can NOT control” column, most likely do not belong on your to-do list at all.  Now look at the low impact items.  Only do these things when time allows.