PDM and Change Management


The Reward System

Communication and learning are important components of the change process. However even if the change message is well communicated and well received, and people are given the opportunity to learn so they can behave differently in the new environment, it doesn't follow that anyone is going to change their behavior. First, they'll look to see on what basis the carrots and gold stars are going to be distributed. If they see that the rewards are going to be handed out the way they always were - then they're going to behave the way they always did - and they're not going to change.

Communication and learning systems can be a bit theoretical. Of course it may cost something to produce a communication package and to put the learning system in place, but these activities don't actually hurt anyone. It's only when the change process begins to change the reward system that people are going to be in danger of getting hurt and everyone will be able to see if management is really serious about implementing change.

Why is this question of the reward system so important? Because people only work for the reward. For some people the reward may be mainly financial, but for others it will be a question of good company, good coffee, status, brain stimulation, good resorts and restaurants, and free tickets for Buckeye games.

Rewards are great aren't they? But remember, people are enjoying their rewards and having a good life because you're rewarding them for working the way you wanted them to work in the past. Now you want them to work differently and to behave differently. So you'll need to reward them differently. First, you'll need to reward them to change, and then you'll need to reward them to work the way you want them to work in the future. You'll want to reward them for changing - getting the right skills and behaving the right way. You'll want to reward them for going a bit further than average and doing things really right.

And don't forget, they are thinking - if I've got to work to get new skills, what's in it for me? How's it going to work if I'm doing a great job, but the other team members aren't - why should I lose out because the others aren't performing? And how am I going to move ahead if there are fewer levels in the organization? What sort of reward will I get? Is it worth the effort to change?

So before plunging ahead with a change project, you need to answer a few questions about the current and future reward systems. First, concerning the current system - What are the current rewards? What is currently rewarded? How do you give the reward? And then about the future system - What do you want rewarded? What are the rewards going to be? What's the scoring system going to be? Who's going to be doing the scoring? How will rewards be given? Who is going to be rewarded? Who will do the rewarding?

CEOs, VPs, directors, managers, supervisors, and Concurrent Engineering team members all need to be informed of the answers to these questions upfront.

And make it plain upfront to the people who do the rewarding that if they don't give a reward that is due, they will be in deep trouble - because it will give the impression that you're not serious about change. And once people start thinking that you're not serious about change, and begin to doubt your integrity, then no one is going to change their behavior.

The late Judge Tuttle said, 'the professional man's only asset is himself. If he does not contain the quality of integrity he is worthless. If he does he is priceless.' Good change managers must have the quality of integrity, and are priceless.

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Page last modified on March 16, 2000
Copyright 1999, 2000 by John Stark