What Behavior are You Rewarding?

What Behavior are You Rewarding?

In almost every book I’ve ever written — and there have been quite a few at this point — I quote the best business advice I have ever heard.  It’s from my friend, Dr. Michael LeBoeuf, from his work that was originally titled, “The Greatest Management Principle in the World.”  Here it is:

“Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated.”

The problem — and wisdom — in this phrase is that it’s so much more profound than it originally appears.  Of course, it means that our customers and employees will repeat the activities that we compensate them for executing. 

However, more subtle is that it also challenges us to question: What actions are we rewarding?

For example — we want sales professionals to establish relationships with customers rather than pressuring them into a solitary closing. Yet, when we examine their compensation structure, we find there’s no additional incentives for future purchases.

In other words, we give lip service to how important that on-going loyalty from our customers. However, when we examine what we reward, it appears our focus is on closing (through any means available and ethical) a single transaction.

My friend, former Chief Customer Officer at Microsoft and Lands End, Jeanne Bliss, often mentions in her presentations the story of the hospital that posted every physician’s evaluation from patients and their families. The result was that malpractice suits dropped by 43%. When receiving high marks from patients and families was rewarded, doctors responded — to the benefit of hospital, physician, and (most importantly) customers that are called “patients.”

That’s the challenge that I make to you. Take a bit to re-evaluate what you’re rewarding and examine if it’s congruent with your goals and aspirations for the future.  My guess is that you’ll find some disconnection.

If you resolve it, you’ll be rewarding the behavior and activity that your desire.  It’s an important step to creating distinction!

When times change…PEOPLE change

When times change…PEOPLE change

Most of you reading this probably only know about drive-ins from watching movies that were set in the 1950s or 60s. Do any of you remember when customers had to visit their bank on Friday afternoons to get enough cash to make it through the weekend?

Most of you probably can’t imagine what life was like when there was only one television in the entire house and only a handful of channels to choose from. Now we do not drive-in, we drive through! (And with Uber-eats and other delivery services revolutionizing the way we gain access to meals, have we reached the point where even driving through is too inconvenient?)

Today, you no longer have to stand in line at the bank so the teller could provide you with cash; you can just swipe your card through an ATM. In fact, in many cases, we no longer need to worry ourselves about having cash-on-hand at all. With technology like Apple Pay or Google Wallet, we’re able to purchase what we want without cash or even a credit card – as long as we have our smartphones! (Could ATMs be in danger of going the way of the VHS machine?)

Many homes probably have a TV in every room — and each family member has a gadget that streams movies. In fact, we’ve even grown tired of traditional TV. It’s predicted that by 2020, digital video will surpass TV with 75% of all video content transmitted via the Internet instead of regular television. (When you think about how much more we watch on YouTube or Netflix, could the days of TV dominance be coming to its end?)

You’re probably wondering what this trip down memory lane has to do with your business and your customers…

It means that along with these changing times and evolving technology, people have changed as well.

As times change, people change.

These people are our customers, and their buying behaviors are impacted by the technological changes that have driven the speed of transactions.

Critical questions for YOU:

  • How do we improve the speed of transactions?
  • What about the delivery of our products and service?
  • How do we do all this while simultaneously enhancing and deepening the relationships we have with customers?
  • How can we repackage our personal styles to appeal to different demographic groups and generations?
  • How do we change our products and services to attract customers and potential employees across a greater demographic and generational spectrum?
  • Do we need to insert more of the “fun factor” to appeal to a generation raised on television and digital media?
  • If all our business training has evolved around economic (rather than emotional) principles, can we compete when the rules of the game change?
  • For many of us, we need to analyze the ways we can change the way we lead our businesses to keep up with innovation that directly affects customers’ habits.

We should be asking ourselves what we can do to keep up with the speed at which things are changing while continuing to enhance relationships with both our customers and employees. And, we must still deliver those compelling experiences that make the most significant impact in how they respond to us.

Remember, in today’s world of change; you cannot succeed by working harder on an old plan. You must grow and evolve.