Dear Ellen,

We have a good compensation program at our company. The Salespeople get commission for their performance. Lately, it just seems to be a little bit stale. Like the team isn’t really motivated by the bonuses. What can I do to fire things up?

“Lost the Spark”

Dear “Sparky,”

People love to play games. My suggestion: Spark things up with a game or two in addition to your sound bonus and compensation program.

Games can increase sales or the number of days your company goes without an injury. Have a surprise Highest Average Invoice Day…the winner gets a kite. Have a Meet and Greet day. The person who brings back the most business cards gets a $25 gift card. You could even have a “Random Acts of Kindness” week where you all go out of your way to do nice things for each other…and try not to get caught in the act.

  • Put someone in charge.
  • Set a time frame. The someone in charge is responsible for keeping the energy up and the game going…right through to the finish line.
  • Consider what you want the game to accomplish. More sales? Better manners? New customers? Publicity for your shop? Better safety record? Better understanding of each others’ jobs? What behaviors would drive you in that direction?
  • Create rules and write them down. Keep it simple.
  • Keep score. Get creative with colorful scorecards, props and game pieces.
  • Adopt game lingo. Name your teams. Create special names for unusual accomplishments. (In bowling, three gutter balls in a row is a poodle. Three strikes in a row is a turkey.)
  • Create and wear some identifying team uniform. Friendly “gang” colors.
  • Hoot and holler when people win or go on to the next level of the game.
  • Honor individual performance, team performance…mix it up.
  • End the game with a flourish…prizes, crowns, preferred parking.

Get creative and keep it light. Help each other play the game straight and keep things in perspective. Aim for fair…and live with the imperfections. You might have to jump in as the referee and make the call in an ambiguous situation. Don’t let that derail you. Some games are great and some are just OK…and every now and then you hit a real winner that has a great impact on productivity and moral. Have fun! And, keep in touch! I’d love to hear about the games people are playing at your company.

Xo$, E