Should Everyone Have A Quota Like Sales?

I received this Tweet a while back in response to my Don’t be Cheap post.

personally i dont think you need to incentivise sales people at all, you dont pay a developer for every line of code.

It was from @dr_sales

I completely disagree with @dr_sales. I think, if possible, every position and every job should be structured similar to sales. Everyone should have a quota! Sales is one of the only jobs I can think of where there is very little subjectivity to measuring success. In sales you are measured against quota. You are making it or you aren’t. Unlike most other jobs sales people aren’t allowed to hide behind “effort”. Effort is where most under performers hide. My kids are pros at this. “Dad, I tried.” “Trying” being the end goal. If we try and try really hard, then hey what else can you ask for.

Incentivising people rewards them for accomplishing critical tasks, objectives and goals. It takes the focus away from trying. To suggest people aren’t already incented is missing reality. Incentives exitist whether or not they are consciously put in place. They are subliminal and overt, implicit and explicit. The desire for promotions, pats on the back, additional responsibility, accolades or the feeling of a job well done are all forms of incentives. It’s the alignment of motivation with effort that makes incentives so valuable. When we don’t provide deliberate incentives we default to varying incentives that are different from person to person and don’t align motivations.

The key to successful organizations is motivated employees. When employees are motivated in a deliberate and explicit direction productivity increases. I think organizations of all types need to consider how to create positions that have definable and measurable goals that can be compensated against. I don’t think all of someones salary should be performance based or variable, but like sales, a good portion of it should be. I also think if folks can exceed those goals they should be able to make more.

In response to @dr_sales, yes coders should be incentivised. Why shouldn’t they be paid on how quickly or efficiently they can code, or how few bugs their code has or how flexible or elegant the code is. I’m not a coder, wish I were, but I bet there is a simple and effective way to build an incentive program for IT organizations. With a lot of creativity and commitment, I can see incentive programs in Finance, HR, Marketing and other operational organizations. I’m not talking “bonus” programs that deliver bonuses over and above base salary, but real, incentive, variable compensation that can be tied to specific employee performance.

Aligning incentives with performance changes the playing field. Trying no longer is the goal. It ensures complete consistency in objectives and goals. It puts the entire organization on the same page. It minimizes the politics and the grandstanding. It makes it harder to hide. I realize this is a difficult effort for some positions and in some companies. But before we say it can’t be done, a little creativity might be in order. Incentives work. We have 100’s of year of sales data to prove it. So, what’s every so afraid of? Oh, yeah. They’d have to be accountable.