One of the reasons I set a number of sales records during my tenure in the NBA was because I was extremely motivated. Part of my success was because I loved my job and because I’ve always been driven to be my best. However, my motivation and my subsequent performance was fueled further because of how I was managed. Here are 4 secrets I learned from my time in the NBA on how to enhance the performance of your employees:
- Hire the right people. As Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, the best companies in the world became “great” because they hired people based on personality attributes and inherent abilities rather than learned knowledge or skills. You also need to hire people who really buy into the mission of your organization. Pride in your employer is a prerequisite for peak performance at work.
- Give employees clear, achievable goals. When I worked in sales for the Wizards, we had very quantifiable, achievable goals for every month of the year and for the entire season. We all knew exactly what was expected of us and how our performance was being measured. Our VP even had a huge board outside of his office that was updated daily to list everyone’s sales number for the year. Even if you don’t work in a sales environment, you need to quantify your expectations for all of your employees.
- Offer compelling performance-based incentives. Wizards’ management offered enticing rewards for hitting our monthly and annual goals, including financial bonuses and all sorts of other cool prizes. Management would also throw in an occasional daily or weekly sales contest to ramp up excitement even further. During my time with the team, my performance won me Courtside tickets to games, a trip on the team plane to an away game in Atlanta, a free lunch with the GM, and some sizeable financial payouts. While your organization might not be able to offer the perks that an NBA franchise could, you don’t need to! Free food and small prizes will work just fine.
- Recognize employee performance and effort. No matter what anyone says, we all like to be appreciated and recognized in front of our peers in a positive way. When I worked for the Wizards, I always said I didn’t like recognition. Guess what? I was lying! I LOVED collecting monthly and annual Salesperson of The Year Awards at staff meetings. Everyone wants to be appreciated and held in high regard. Recognize performance AND effort for your employees every chance you get.
In summary, the first step is to get the right people on your team. Then, keep your employees motivated with clear, reasonable goals, exciting incentives for surpassing those goals, and genuine appreciation based on performance and effort. Do these 4 things, and your employees will run through brick walls for you, and your organization’s performance will skyrocket no matter what is going on with the economy.
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-President of Idealize Enterprises
-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour
–Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day