In order to encourage commitment and participation, especially when first starting your continuous improvement team it would be a very good idea to include a reward program.  The business value that the continuous improvement team will deliver to your collaboration partnerships will grow as the participation and the partnership grows and prospers.  In order to ensure the continued commitment the team that is instrumental in achieving that business value should share in these rewards.  While the satisfaction of the achievements can be a great reward there is nothing that will encourage the continued participation and development as much as rewards for the team.

Rewards can be made up of many things, from recognition and celebration of the success to monetary sharing in the business value delivered by the improvements.  The rewards should start with the celebration and recognition of course.  This recognition and celebration of the small successes will provide two benefits to the team, first it will provide the recognition from the leadership of the performance and second it will encourage and support building the team spirit and camaraderie.  This recognition and celebration is important especially in the early stages of the team development to encourage the team spirit and maintain the focus on the team initiatives.  It is especially important in the early stages of the team forming that the wins are recognized and celebrated in order to maintain the momentum.  This recognition and celebration will also be important in the later stages of the team development when the team runs into internal and external conflict and the many hurdles to delivery that will be necessary to overcome.

Your rewards program should also include the opportunity for monetary rewards that should be mixed into the recognition and celebration.  Monetary rewards can take on many forms and should be explored and mixed up to encourage the commitment from the team.  You can mix monetary rewards with celebration through team outings.  These team outings provide the additional benefits of building the team spirit and camaraderie.  Additional forms of monetary rewards can include additional time off to reward success. You should  be imaginative to maintain the interest and participation of the team.  This is a critical aspect to the team building process and you must maintain a focus on this especially because of the cross functional and cross company nature of the team.  You must provide the opportunity for the team to socialize in order to build the team spirit and camaraderie.

In order to really seal the deal though there must be direct individual rewards.  These direct rewards come in two types, the first is direct to the individual through performance evaluations and promotions and the second is through value sharing programs.  Obviously the easiest and most straightforward method is through performance evaluations and promotions.  The individual’s participation in the improvement team will provide the opportunity to quickly demonstrate capabilities that would have taken much longer to demonstrate outside of the participation in the team.  The second form is a value sharing program, which is a little more difficult to implement and administer.  The difficulty comes from defining, tracking and administering the value to be distributed in the sharing program.  While this can be an important tool it can be difficult to administer, especially when you take into account the team is made up of cross company members. This form of reward is best left for the later stages of the team development when the team is truly performing.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

Have your started or are you in the midst of an institutional change initiative?  What are the key traits you have identified as required to support the initiative?  Have you contemplated the name or phrase for the person leading your initiative?