You Get What You Reward


Expecting behavior without a reward being possible is putting the cart before the horse.

The whole concept of reward is to perpetuate behaviors that are desirable to the organization. This is the whole concept of motivation in all its numerous guises. The most recent version is Pink’s Motivation 2.0. Regardless of how you dress it up, behavior occurs because it is rewarded, whether it is some external reward or some internal reward. The bottomline is you get what you reward.
 Simple concept
It really is a pretty easy concept to understand, yet I find managers having a difficult time applying it. Here is an example. A company I know of wants to get its sales reps to use the CRM (customer relationship management) software. Yet there has been some hesitancy to use it on the part of the reps. It is new, it is technology, there is a learning curve, and let’s face it there is no immediate reward for learning it or using it.
You have to ask yourself, what do most sales reps find rewarding? Money! Or sales, which then translates into money. So to  get sales reps to use the CRM you want to make it associated with money, in this case using the CRM to feed them sales leads. Makes sense doesn’t it. But management does not get it. They do not want to go through the effort of loading leads into the CRM until the sales reps are using the CRM more.
Say what?
Let me say that again in a different way. They want their sales reps to use the CRM. The CRM is the way the reps could get leads that would translate to sales which would translate to money, the thing that motivates sales reps to alter their behavior. But management does not want to put leads into the CRM until they are using it better. This is backward thinking. Rather than reward the reps for engaging in the desired behavior they want the reps to engage in the behavior on their own. A cart before the horse scenario in my mind.
To their credit, some reps have discovered that the CRM does help in their job and that internalized reward keeps them using it, but many others don’t understand the value and will not recognize it until management understands their mistake.

11 thoughts on “You Get What You Reward”

  1. I love this post. First of all – just saying that Motivation 2.0 is another “version” of motivation makes my heart beat a bit faster. While I agree with about 64.3% of the concept it is still just a piece of the pie. You bring to the table the rest of it.
    I think where most people go wrong (and to your credit Mike – you avoided it) is to first and foremost put a cash incentive on the behavior. In your example most folks would start with giving a bonus for using the system. But your way is much, much better. In addition to being proactive on the part of the company (I’ll do this first) you’re leveraging the principle of reciprocity – which can be a huge influencer of behavior. Second – as people see the leads leading to sales (pun intended) they will tell others about it and they will want to get in on the action (another social influencer – consensus and social proof.)
    The problem is that we leap to “cash” as a rewards too quickly and we need to really look at the issue and make sure we’ve done the basics… which in this case is … get people to connect the tool to the outcome THEY want – not the outcome YOU want.
    Great post Mike – made my day!

  2. Hi Mike. I (like Paul) love this post. most leaders and managers do have it backwards. They just don’t seem to get it. To me, reward is a big part of CARE. It is like incentive, recognition, etc.
    Keep on writing great content and take CARE.

  3. Integrate CRM into the Strategy CRM is not only a computer program, it is a way of doing business. When training your sales team you impart in them the company strategy for making sales that you, as Sales Operations Manager, already put in practice, so integrate CRM functions into that process. You don’t want to just tell your sales reps to “use” the system, you want to teach them that there are certain processes that they will be expected to use. A CRM system is ideal for this – they need to be taught how.

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