How To Effectively Incentivise Employees To Discover Outliers

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Morning all,

Fri 5 Nov

I want to discuss today the power of incentivisation when it comes to driving progress and growth within your team.

With the current content writing team, one of the challenges (surprise surprise) is getting the volume of content out that we need/want in time and me trying to find ways to drive more content without the cost of quality from the team.

So in this instance what did I do?

I set a simple reward of $250 cash award for the person who wrote the most content for the month of October to see what would happen.

Well it was quite simple in effect –

There was a level of self-selection that happened because outside of what people ordinarily need to do in terms of their content workloads – this was an additional element of it.

The end of month result was that the volume of content produced across the team went up by around 15% (notwithstanding people who were ill/away/working reduced hours)…

But then we also discovered an outlier.

I.e where several of the team wrote between 4-6 additional pages – one lady in our teamPrudence wrote 27 pages.

She absolutely obliterated the baseline of what is expected from the others and set a new standard.

The end result of this is now that Prudence has accelerated up the ranks in terms of my perception of her as well as her ability to write volume at a certain competency level.

Since then I’ve had her move into a little bit of a separate group to focus upon building some of the more important content on our websites.

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So in summary – this is the value of creating internal competitions – that it gives those who have talent an ability to shine and show themselves through the process.

It also underlines what can come as a consequence of incentivising success – because it shows you exactly what someone can do and the level that they can perform at.

Some takeaways then when it comes to thinking about how this might apply to your company –

  1. Make sure that the goal you set is tangible and quantitatively measurable – this way there’s less room for bias
  2. Don’t less this pull away from the focus of their work – in fact this competition was about incentivising the team to do MORE of their work
  3. Build intermittent reward systems as well as ongoing ones

Let’s talk about #3 in a little more detail –

Ongoing rewards (as with anything) soon lose their allure and therefore their effectiveness diminishes over time pretty quickly.

This means rotating rewards and mixing things up is very helpful – else people will get bored.

What we will do is run these content sprints now and again to see what result it produces and then run more sprints a few months later.

This way people forget about the reward, and perhaps remember again later down the line and it’s infrequent enough to still excite people but frequent enough to still get the drive you’re looking for.


In many respects incentives to drive superior performance is nothing new – but what surprised me was how it identified top performers.

This is the part that I feel is new – and running these events will allow you to find those who could potentially rise quickly and confidently within your company.

As in this instance – Prudence truly rose to the occasion.