Incentive… The Master Motivator

An older article wrote years ago that I published here since I believe the concept is still relevant.
Incentive: use it to manage both business and friendship
What is incentive? defines incentive as “something that incites or tends to incite to action or greater effort, as a reward offered for increased productivity.”
I argue it is more than that.  Incentive is a powerful tool. Knowing how to wield it can be what gets you hired or keeps you employed. Knowing how to properly use and determine the incentives of others is a key element to having a long-lasting career and getting the most out of your people.  This series of blog posts (from January to the first day of spring) will all reference incentive in some way.
Incentive in friendship
A real friend is someone who sticks by you even when there’s 0 incentive for them to do so. This is a lesson we are all taught in our elementary school years.  We learn valuable lessons in those years; from determining who cares about us most, to hard lessons about those friendships we thought were important, but were never really so.  Personally, I have 0 friends from high school and my childhood neighborhood growing up.  My best friends are a combination of 1 person from my college years, and people I have known over the past 8 years.  My advice is to treat friends who are only around when it is in their best interest as you would an employee you cannot count on; FIRE THEM!
Incentive in the classroom
We have all been ourselves or have seen a student at one time that appeared really smart and had a high GPA, but a class comes up and all of a sudden they perform at a C level or lower (My last intern for example).  If there are no health issues or other issues at home plaguing them, the answer as to why their dedication and grades have suddenly fallen off of a cliff is incentive.  I have worked with students in the past that were extremely bright, well spoken, and driven individuals.  I have learned that if a student of this type sees no future benefit, financial or otherwise, from the information they’ll be learning, they see no reason to apply themselves.
Educators need to at least once reach out to these students to show them how they can benefit; even I still use things I learned in Biology 100, just not professionally.  I understand that to the tenured professor that has a million other things going on in their life that this sounds like an exercise in futility, but the attempt must be made.  Making the attempt to reach out will teach the student to reach out themselves to a younger future generation when it is their turn later in life.  This is the very reason why I still continue to give me time to college students today and help them in any way that I can.  Those who become great at reaching out make great future teachers and managers.
Incentive in business
As an operations manager I have worked hard to try to predict outcomes based on known variables as well as my knowledge of others in the same operation.  I have been successful to a high degree and have dubbed my ability ‘operational foresight’.  I can see operational problems where others cannot, but not until recently have I found the key to staffing better operations personnel.  The key is to discover what incentivizes the individual.  Knowing what motivates an individual to act is the key to determining if they are a candidate for promotion or to be a part of your firm in the first place.  Those who willingly step up to handle the difficult assignments that mean more hours at the office are the people you want on your team.  Those who do not, should not be working for you in the first place.

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