Rule 10: Simplicity

The Elevator Rule:  Keep It Simple

In the design of workforce performance management processes, including most performance recognition and incentive programs, a critical objective is Keep It Simple.

Why?  If the workforce doesn’t understand the program, the program won’t generate the desired results, no matter how elegant and brilliant the program’s design.

Though it sounds rudimentary and simplistic, the so-called Elevator Rule is a workable guideline for what “Simple” is.  It sets a standard that a manager should be able to explain to a subordinate employee their performance incentive or reward plan in the time needed for an elevator ride.  The higher up the building they have to go, the more time you have to explain it.  Entrepreneur’s call it the “elevator pitch”.  Others have called it the “Three Powerpoint Rule”.

Obviously, those enterprises that have complex sales and service processes will have relatively more complex compensation structures, so “simplicity” has to be a relative to the circumstance.

If the incentive/bonus/merit compensation plans are too complicated for necessary workforce comprehension, complete understanding and full “buy-in” won’t happen.  And, the desired goals won’t be obtained.

Overly complex incentive plans create so much workforce Uncertainty that employees almost immediately relegate them to Irrelevance.  Actual results are then achieved relatively randomly, with the workforce seeking to make the plan sub-elements that they do understand (or have had “explained” to them by co-workers) work for them somehow.   Simplicity reinforces workforce Certainty; which is far more important than the elegance of the plan’s design.

In scores of situations where these complicated plans have been implemented, even the Human Resource department incentive plan administrators could not adequately explain the plans to their coworkers, other expert incentive plan designers, or their performance measurement system vendors.

That so many of these overly complex plans actually do produce some progress and positive results speaks to the vastly greater unrealized potential of incentive/bonus/merit compensation programs, as well as to the sheer desire of Humans to Succeed.

Imagine the positive impact of a powerful, basic, easy to understand, and easy to evolve performance incentive/recognition plan that every workforce member could know intuitively and describe from memory.  When that happens, then the workforce is focused and committed to fulfilling the organization’s desired goals.

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>>> Rule 11