Maximizing Employee Effectiveness Through Aligning Objectives

08.10.22 6:53 AM

When the weather gets as hot as it has, hovering around the 30°C (86°F) mark, the temptation for many is to take time off work, pack up a camper, and spend some time deep in the wilderness to recharge.  Not everyone, however, is incentivized to this action by the weather.  Some are rather off-put by the heat (and they are crazy!) and prefer the cold for other activities, such as skiing and skating.  These cold-dwellers might be coerced by the heat-lovers, on occasion, to join in summer activities, but the key word of 'coerced' really applies.  People, as a whole, will tend to do what they enjoy, what is in their best interest, or what they perceive as being the best and easiest course of action.

When the weather gets as hot as it has, hovering around the 30°C (86°F) mark, the temptation for many is to take time off work, pack up a camper, and spend some time deep in the wilderness to recharge

Employees are no different.  While it is easy to be idealistic, and believe that an employee will always (or, at the very least, a majority of the time) complete the jobs they are assigned, simply because you, as the boss, have assigned them.  The reality of the situation is not so.  That is certainly not to say that no employee acts in this regard, needing little reminder or guidance on the tasks they have been assigned, but managing by this exception will end in disappointment.  In order to set employees up for the best success, you have to properly incent the behavior you want to see out of them.

What form that behavior takes will depend on the role and the industry.  Irrespective of any other variables, though, the starting point is always the question of what objectives you want this role to accomplish.  Undefined or vague objectives will never be met, as even the most motivated employee cannot read your mind, and cannot be held at fault for failing to do what you had not requested; it might not ever even occur to them.  Yet, just because a task and objective is outlined explicitly does not mean it will be done.

The task needs to have the incentives of the employee and employer aligned.  The common trap is to believe that the implicit exchange of "you do this task and I will pay you" is sufficient: it isn't.  Like the cold-dweller told he must go camping, he will look for ways to cut corners, reduce the frequency, or outright not do the task, to test if there is a consequence.  'The boss wants the floor swept daily, but is there consequence if I do it every other day?  Can I get away with it once a week? Can I do a poor job and get away with it?  How poor a job can I do and still not get in trouble?'  There is not an alignment of objectives, as the employee is tempted to try and get paid without performing the work.

If you're having difficulty aligning objectives, or holding your staff accountable, then BMI is there to help you out.

In an alignment of objectives, the employee is incentivized to sweep the floor without prompting or reminding.  Imagine a scenario in which the supervisor tells the employee, "The objective is to keep the floor clean.  Any day that I arrive at the office in the morning, and find any dirt, you are not paid your bonus for the day prior."  Now, the employee must answer his own aforementioned questions.  Can he get away with sweeping every other day?  Can he do a poor job?  He might try it, if he is willing to gamble his bonus pay on it.  More likely, though, he will devise a system that meets the objective.  The manager, then, only needs to focus on holding the consequences to the employee.  And of course, if you're having difficulty aligning objectives, or holding your staff accountable, then BMI is there to help you out.


-Your BMI family

BMI Can Help Align Stakeholder Incentives