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Employee motivation in one–yeah, just one–easy step

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Robert Lentz

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

It's amazing to HR exec, speaker and author Paul Falcone that every company doesn't create individual performance plans for its employees. IPPs, he explains, take the tired year-end performance review and turn it into a year-long chase for greatness. The turning of the calendar then refreshes the plan completely, starting everyone on yet another challenging path.

Falcone puts it this way: Probably just one of the more than 2,000 hours we work every year is reserved just for us—that one hour when we get to discuss our own performance of the past 12 months, along with what our ambitions are for the following year. IPPs get staff thinking in "go" mode during all the other hours as well, five days a week.

Too many companies, he says, see the annual appraisal as a form rather than a process of engagement, interaction, achievement and celebration. They let that paperwork disappear into a personnel file and become forgotten.

The process is the point of it all. Goal-setting focuses energies, opens lines of communication and keeps everyone on track.

The very act of asking for input on the IPP gives the employer another victory. You've asked someone what he or she wants to work toward, not simply told them—or even worse, given them no real clue of goals other than vague statements about "being the best" or "striving for excellence." Yawn. With vivid targets constantly in sight though, everyone has a sense of true direction.

It's not much of a stretch to see how the company benefits from all this. Who wouldn't want employees who are always fixed to a taut mental wire connecting them to clear ambitions, always moving ahead, with every accomplishment shaping a model worker?

"If it sounds to you like the annual goal-setting process is really more of a verb than a noun," Falcone says, "you're getting the picture."

So are you giving your staff a bunch of workdays ending in an awkward annual chat … or are you giving them a call to action of their own design?

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