Show Your Managers Some Love Already!

ITA Group
ITA Group

Managers. They crunch numbers. They settle differences. They ensure quality, productivity and progress. They motivate. But who is motivating them? It’s this last question that really gets us. Too often we see managers and supervisors overlooked in incentive and recognition strategy. Big mistake.

Frontline managers and supervisors are a critical factor in your program’s success. They bridge the gap between high-level corporate objectives and daily tactics—where program success really lives. 

It isn’t enough to set some goals and dangle relevant rewards. Nope. You need your frontline talking about your program. All day. Every day. You need their support to build awareness and encourage participation, to nudge performance when necessary.

But as the saying goes, “You don’t get something for nothing.” Incentives and recognition programs aside, a recent study on employee engagement by BlessingWhite says only 39% of managers are actually engaged. So roughly 1 in 3 will push your incentive/recognition agenda because they know it’s good for your organization. The rest? Well, not surprisingly, they’re asking; “What’s in it for me?” 

So what can you do to incent or reward these key influencers? How do you inspire them to give you discretionary effort—that extra effort that distinguishes “want to do” from “have to do”? 

We have some ideas:

Not unlike any other company around the world, you’re probably asking them to do more with less. So they’re carrying a hefty load of responsibility. Make sure their focus in your initiative is clear. “Increase revenue” won’t cut it. Be specific. Make steps digestible, actionable. 

ITA Group and WorldatWork recently conducted a study on recognition trends. We found only 12% of organizations provide some sort of manager training on recognition initiatives. When they do, it’s usually online and in-person sessions.

Consider the following:

  • Reward managers for learning the ins and outs of your program prior to launch
    • Provide a training session about the program (WebEx or a PowerPoint with follow-up quiz)
  • Reward managers for program enrollment
    • Establish a clear enrollment goal and reward managers accordingly
    • 80% of participants enrolled = X reward 
    • 100% of participants enrolled = Y reward
  • Reward managers when direct reports collectively reach goal
    • % override of participant earnings
    • Flat payout if X% of direct reports reach goal
    • Ideally, this is monthly or quarterly. Like participants, sizable long-term goals are hard to digest and feel unattainable. Build ongoing momentum from the start.

The takeaway? People repeat the behaviors they believe will be rewarded. One more time, people repeat the behaviors they believe will be rewarded. Your people. Managers included. Don’t overlook or underutilize them in your next incentive or recognition effort. Show them some love already.