Monday, November 12, 2012

What rewards and recognition are appropriate for our SEPG?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – I’m an executive CMMI sponsor for a Virginia-based aerospace engineering company that doesn’t reward performance with bonuses or incentives. Even so, I want to make sure my SEPG feels appreciated for the changes we’re asking them to make in adopting the CMMI. What reward program would be appropriate for our circumstances? ~ Pam M.

Pam, It sounds like both your heart and brain are in the right place. You understand that CMMI is as much about changing the culture as it is about improving the way you do your work. Because rewards and recognition are part of a discipline known as Organizational Change Management (OCM), I will pass your question along to Julie Calfin, Broadsword’s Director of Consulting. Julie does amazing work with companies that are undergoing large scale business transformation like yours. Take it away, Julie! ~ The CMMI Appraiser 

Thank you, CMMI Appraiser!

Pam, I agree with the CMMI Appraiser. It’s great to hear from someone who understands that using the CMMI to transform your culture is not easy on the team. I have several ideas to share that will help you give your SEPG the thumbs-up.
The great thing about recognition and rewards, in addition to helping you say, “Thank you,” is that they are two great levers to help people change their behavior. They can help people to stop doing what you don’t want them to do, and do more of what you do want them to do.

Recognition can be a cost-free way to let people know that they are appreciated. Sometimes it’s just a pat on the back, a public “atta-boy” to the people who have contributed. For example, you may send a group email recognizing a certain teammate for her contribution to process design. Or you may give verbal recognition to another teammate for his participation in pilot testing new processes. Managers also appreciate receiving letters recognizing their employees for going above and beyond the call of duty. These letters come in handy when completing performance reviews!

When it comes to rewards, the key take-away is that rewards should always be tied back to the organization’s process improvement goals or future state vision. You want to make sure that the right behaviors are incentivized because measurements drive behaviors. Before rewarding, ask yourself, “Is this reward aligned with the way we want our people to behave in the future?”

Rewards can also be spot rewards. For example, one of Broadsword’s clients pauses briefly to celebrate when they arrive at different phases in their process improvement program. They throw a big ice cream party with all their staff. Everyone has a good time, and then they get back to work.

When Broadswords’ clients use our agileCMMI method, we encourage them to reward the members of the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) at the end of each three month release cycle. When one of our clients completed their first incremental process release, the Program Sponsor gave each SIG member a gift card and a hand-written note, thanking them for their time.

These are examples of recognition and rewards that don’t cost the organization a lot of money, and do a lot to help motivate and engage people. Here are some rules of thumb (or rules of thumbs-up!) with recognition and rewards:

• If measurements drive behaviors, rewards serve to reinforce desired behaviors or proliferate undesired behaviors
• Recognition of key contributors is part of the program’s planned tasks
• Individual performance goals and associated incentive compensation are aligned with attaining the organization’s process improvement goals

You’ll have to find what works for you, Pam. Keep in mind, your rewards and recognition approach has a lot in common with the company’s vision. Both are a bridge between the past and future.

Hope this helps! Let us know how it goes.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Julie Calfin is the Director of Consulting at Broadsword Solutions Corporation. She has years of real world experience using OCM strategy and tactics to help her clients achieve their goals. Julie also uses the CMMI, in partnership with her clients, to set-up, monitor, and sustain process improvement programs.

Visit for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

No comments: