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Concentrate on short-term awards

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Long-term goals may drive your organization, but most employees don't really care about what's to gain in one, three or five years. They would prefer to make a short-term sacrifice to win a short-term reward.

Our brains are conditioned to undervalue long-range goals; we tend to gravitate toward instant gratification. That's why you'll find it easier to persuade people to expend effort in short bursts rather than entreating them to embark on a steady, prolonged climb.

Motivate employees by dangling incentives if they achieve "quickies"--measurable actions or achievements that require an unusually high level of commitment within the next day or week. Doling out smaller awards in short-term increments works better than withholding larger awards until a year or more from now when your team attains a big goal.

Example: Promise a $50 cash bonus or gift certificate if a marketing specialist completes a survey of 100 customers by next Friday. If that happens, offer another specific prize if the employee submits a full analysis of the survey results--and a concrete action plan--a week later. That's better than saying, "Over the next year, we're going to conduct the most comprehensive series of customer surveys this company has ever done. You can earn some amazing incentives if you help produce a year's worth of great survey results."


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