Incentive Plans Work on the Field and in the Workplace

September 13, 2010 | By Jason Lavin

Golden BoysI coach soccer. Have done so for years.  My youngest child (Jimmy) is playing AYSO’s “U-5 Boys” (meaning Boys under 5 years old) and we had our first game last Saturday.

We only had 1.5 practices leading up to our first game.  The first practice was, “meet the coach and players” pretty much – and not a lot of moving around.  The second practice – a bit more of the same.  If you have tried to coach 4-year olds in anything, I don’t have to explain what those practices look like.

On the Friday (day before our first game) our eight bright-yellow uniforms came in – so I e-mailed the parents and told them to pick up their son’s uniform from my porch, and if they could not swing that, then I would simply bring the remaining uniforms to the first game.  Since we did not know our colors until the uniforms came, we showed up on Saturday a.m. for our first game, with all our players, but no team name.

8:30 a.m. and the whistle blew – our first soccer game was underway.  We ended the half, as to be expected – a few kicks here, a few there… but, candidly, a little sluggish on both sides of the ball.

To my surprise, all the eight 4-year olds did just that.

“OK everyone… I am going to give you your first life lesson the soccer field.  I’m going to give you some insight right now on ‘how life works’ in the real world.”

As you can imagine, that got most of the parent’s attention, as well as the kids.
With a bit of a pause, I could feel everyone think to themselves, what in the world is he going to tell a bunch a 4-year olds about how the real world works during halftime at a soccer game?

So, I made the big announcement.
“Whoever scores our next goal… gets to pick our team name!”

From that point on, it was a transformed team.  An amazing difference from the first half to the second half… in my opinion, just by adding a little strategic incentive plan for the boys.  Yes, incentive plans do work… on the field as well as in the workplace.

On the business front, good friends of mine Tom Miller and Ken Gibson from VisionLink are masters at helping companies build and execute incentive plans.  For more than 20 years, Tom and Ken have helped companies “score goals” by helping them motivate key talent through pay-for-performance compensation strategies.  You might want to give them a look if you’re looking to re-name your team, or just score more goals with your top employees.


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