We hear it all the time… “Where do I start when planning my program?” Most of the time, people know what they want out of the program (creating a better culture, increasing ROI, better retention, etc.), but they don’t know how to get there. Whether planning an employee recognition or sales incentive program, there are some key steps to consider to be successful and reach the intended goals.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Define the program goal and create a strategic plan. Every program needs to start with the end in mind, and with a clear plan of execution. Properly structured sales campaigns, for example, should start by creating a budget, rules for how rewards will be distributed, and the ROI. For engagement programs, a strategic plan identifies achievable goals, the desired life of the program, participants who will be involved, and the resources needed to run the program successfully.
  2. Connect everything back to company values. Company values should be the core of any organization. And everything that an organization does should be backed by these company goals. The same goes when designing a program. It must connect back to corporate goals and values in order to be successful. When your people know that they are a part of a bigger company mission, they will feel more connected to the organization and to the efforts needed of them.
  3. Set expectations. When a program is launched, there are typically expectations set around performance and goals at the inception. But are those expectations communicated and known throughout the organization? It’s easy for employees or sales teams to miss the mark, if they aren’t sure what the goal is.
  4. Identify an internal champion. Every program needs a champion. Companies like ours provide the platform, support, guidelines, customer service, and everything else to keep the program running smoothly. But the organization needs someone within the company who has the vision, passion, and belief to make the program succeed. Internal champions, as we like to call them, work to keep the program top-of-mind for all its participants and generate enthusiasm.
  5. Compose a communication strategy. A communication plan is sometimes overlooked when designing a program, but it is just important as anything else. Communications play a role in keeping participants engaged and the program top-of-mind. Additionally, all types of communication materials should be utilized, such as emails, posters, apps, public recognition, and social platforms, to reach and inspire the biggest possible audience.
  6. Train managers. Managers are a crucial piece to any program. In order for a program to be successful, managers must be active in recognizing and engaging their people. Managers who don’t adopt your program will have a negative impact on the organization in general. Make sure managers are trained to participate as they should and monitor that they are engaging their team and using the tools you provide.
  7. Choose reward options that appeal to all. Depending on your program, you must select the right reward mix for your winners. For a recognition program, it is important to have options that appeal to many peoples’ interests across the organization. For a sales incentive or channel program, bigger rewards like travel are known motivators. Make sure that the reward is proportionate to the level of effort it takes to achieve it.
  8. Monitor and analyze performance. Once everything else is in place and a program is running smoothly, it’s vital to measure performance against baseline metrics. Whether short-term incentives or long-term recognition programs, data should be collected at pre-determined periods. This will uncover any trends in success of the program, and also offer insight into where things need to be improved.

With a well-designed program, a strong communications plan, the proper rewards, and overarching program engagement, you have all the elements it takes to create or revamp a successful program. You can read more about designing sales incentive and employee engagement programs at the white paper links below:

 

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About the author

Monica is the Marketing Manager at Next Level Performance, where she develops and manages all marketing programs. She has a passion for art, and - as a resident Millennial - offers important insight into Employee Engagement for this important generation of new arrivals. Favorite travel destination: Iceland.

Monica Hedden
Marketing Manager
mhedden@nxlperformance.com

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