Just what drives employee performance? Lets examine the sports industry. I am a huge sports fan, particularly football and basketball. Take football. The coach has a collection of athletes that come from all walks of life with their own personalities and set of skills (just like your company). He has to mold this group and get them to perform to the best of their ability in the pursuit of team goals. What makes athletes strive to excel in pursuit of team goals?
With some it is money, but money wasn’t a driving force 25 years ago. And money isn’t the only reason for some athletes today. Are high school athletes driven to perform at their best for money? How many actually get scholarships? Are college athletes driven to perform for money? How many actually make a living by being an athlete? Is money driving Michael Jordan to consider coming out of retirement, to play for the minimum NBA salary? As long as you have a competitive compensation plan, money is not one of your employees’ primary motivator.
One of the overriding factors that drives athletes to perform is that all performance is measured. Benchmarks are established and known from which acceptable performance is measured. They keep score for individuals and the team. There are statistics to measure almost everything.
Would anyone sit through a game, or play the game as well, if they could only find out the score at the end of the game when all play has stopped? Not knowing the score until the end takes some of the excitement away from the game.
Don’t players look at the scoreboard during the course of the game? Do they alter their play based on the score? Sure they do. If the coach was the only one who knew the score, it would be totally his burden to get the players to perform. A difficult and stressful task.
At some point, companies grow beyond the ability of any one person to carry the whole team. Couldn’t you benefit if your field workers knew the status of the project, time and cost wise, at all times so that they could alter their work to beat the estimate?
On a construction project, the estimate is the benchmark from which we measure performance. It is the opponent’s score. Our opponent is the jobsite conditions that we have to overcome in order to complete the project and beat the estimate. If it takes longer than the estimated time and costs to complete a project, we lost the game. That doesn’t mean we didn’t perform well, but we still lost. If we complete the project with less costs than the estimate, we won the game.
It can be fun if your field workers are given a goal to beat. And if they win, how do you think they will feel? They will feel part of the team. They will have good attitudes. They will look forward to coming to work. They will produce. They will be just like the athletes and get excited about winning. Give your workers a goal to beat and watch your profits increase.
Of course, keeping score is not the only factor that drives the athletes to succeed. The coach does not play. He establishes the game plan. He defines the roles of the players and motivates them to work as a team to carry out the game plan.
How many times have we seen a team fire a coach because the team wasn’t winning as much as the owner or fans wanted, and the new coach comes in and gets much more effort and wins from the athletes? It happens a lot. Coaching is very important, and on the jobsite, the foreman or superintendent is the coach. And as a group, your foremen may be the most important people in your company. And, that will be the subject of our next newsletter. Watch for it.