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Engagement & Performance

How to improve team performance by moving the mighty middle

Looking to maximise engagement and improve team performance? It's all about moving your middle performers.

Most companies believe that, when it comes to performance, their target audience is represented by the 20/60/20 rule. 

The top 20 percent are the performers that often meet or exceed quota, the middle are the 60 percent that are often on, or just shy, of meeting quota and the bottom 20 percent are usually far below quota attainment.

So the logical thing to do is to focus your efforts on the top 20 percent to maximise results, right?

Wrong. If you really want to improve your bottom line, you need to drive performance across the board and get the middle and lowest parts of the curve to move towards the top. In fact, a five percent performance gain from the middle 60 percent can yield over 70 percent more revenue than a five percent shift in the top 20 percent! So where do you start?

How to improve team performance

1.    Segment your audience

Let’s face it; the ‘one size fits all’ approach never works. Segmentation, on the other hand, accounts for individual differences. In fact it allows your audience to identify an idiosyncratic fit i.e. the feeling that you enjoy a unique advantage in achieving a goal, making a sale, beating an opponent, or completing a task.

If your team can’t identify an idiosyncratic fit with an engagement programme, they won’t bother to participate in it or be motivated enough to move up the performance curve. 

Let’s explore this in more detail by looking at those three performance groups more closely:

–        The top performers: These guys are already focused, determined and performing at their optimum. They are intrinsically motivated to succeed no matter what. What they’re looking for in an incentive programme is the recognition, status and privilege that comes with being on top of their game. Leader boards that feed their competitive nature; club concepts and money-can’t-buy awards that give them a feeling of exclusivity and status are just some of the sales incentive methodologies that will truly inspire and excite them.

–        The mid performers: This group is pretty happy keeping the status quo – however, given the right motivation, tools and knowledge, they are more likely to stretch themselves. An incentive programme that rewards and recognises the steps to sale; social recognition that creates a contagion effect and learning tools that gives them a competitive edge are some of the tactics that BI WORLDWIDE uses to drive the mighty middle.

–        The low performers: This group is usually heterogeneous: they may be new recruits in need of training and senior salespeople who have become complacent, as well as people who are simply less talented and motivated than their colleagues. The focus here should not only be on overcoming their barriers to success but on giving them a greater sense of belonging while inspiring them to aim higher.  This can be achieved through bite-size learning tagged with short quizzes; easy access to the right sales tools; incorporation of fun gamification mechanics such as badges and social walls that put the limelight on their victories, no matter how big or small.

2. Choose the right goals

Once the audience is segmented, your next step should be to drive individuals towards your vision and keep them on track. Clever goal design is key to this. Your goals obviously need to be SMART, but your performers must also believe that they have a realistic chance of achieving them.  A highly successful way of doing this is by enabling your performance groups to personalise their goals. And this is exactly what BI WORLDWIDE’s GoalQuest incentive system does. Performers can select one of three goal levels and work towards achieving it. If they are successful they are rewarded, simple!  An impressive 550 BI WORLDWIDE sales incentive programmes have confirmed the effectiveness of this process with more than 26 percent of the sales lift produced by the lowest 20 percent of the audience.

3.    Keep it transparent

People naturally want to move onto the next level (yes, even your low performers, if given the right motivation!).  So use real-time dashboards and let your team see how well they are performing against their goals and even against their peers. 

Given the right motivation, tools and knowledge, they are more likely to stretch themselves.

3. Ensure your communication is targeted

Your three performance groups, like most of us, suffer from information overload. To rise above the noise, your communication campaign needs to hit them with the right content, in the right place, at the right time.  It’s important that your message articulates how they are performing against their goal and what they need to do to improve their performance. Remember: the closer they feel they are to achieving their goal, the more effort they will put into it.

4. Offer the right rewards

As we have seen so far, it’s quite apparent that not everyone is intrinsically motivated.  So if you want your team to work harder and help you shift the performance curve, then you need to offer rewards that will inspire them to do so. Although cash rewards might seem like the most obvious choice (and given the choice, most will say they want cash), our research and experience has shown that people are more engaged by non-cash rewards. Your team is more likely to remember a family holiday in the South of France, attending the World Cup or putting on a luxury watch for the first time than a cash reward that is likely to be absorbed in life’s everyday banalities. Remember: non-cash rewards are powerful because they create memories that are positive and reinforce an emotional connection with your brand.

5. Keep spicing it up!

No doubt people will get bored of your programme and, frustratingly, this happens very quickly – something called hedonic adaptation.  But it’s not inevitable if you keep spicing up your programme and injecting some fun into it. Give your three performance groups the opportunity to boost their reward earnings along the way, while focusing on specific objectives like increasing your Customer Satisfaction Score or increasing knowledge of a new product. Inject some fun through gamification and you will surprise and delight your top performers (and most improved) when they least expect it.

Human beings change their behaviour either because they have to or because they want to – BI WORLDWIDE’s employee and channel engagement programmes ensure that it’s because they want to.

Like the idea of an agency that is already moving the mighty middle and improving efficiencies globally? Then get in touch with BI WORLDWIDE. We’d love to hear from you!

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