Line managers are the biggest factor in the success or failure of your reward scheme. And that’s true not just when you reach the implementation stage – but at a much earlier stage in the process.
In fact, we believe the secret of a successful reward programme is getting line managers involved in your scheme from Day One. This approach was core to working with one of our favourite clients: Which? Aimée Badcock, Talent Manager at Which? sees the benefits on many levels. In addition to developing and implementing a career and job family reward framework which was fully aligned to their organisational values,they have an employee engagement score of 80% demonstrating they were able to maintain high levels of engagement through a difficult change programme with managers playing a pro-active role in developing staff. Not only has this reaped dividends for the organisation, but the scheme has also been nominated for a CIPD People Management Award
“… if a reward programme is to work effectively it needs to take advantage of the relationships and lines of communication that already exist between line managers and their employees.” So says this Hay Group whitepaper which identifies line managers as the vital link in managing the reward process.
To be successful, a reward scheme has to pass two acid tests: the “So what?” test and the “What does it mean to me?” test. In other words, the scheme has to convince the people whose behaviour you’re trying to influence – your staff.
Line managers can give you the inside track on whether or not your scheme will pass these tests. They know what will and won’t work for staff. And they already have direct lines of communication to employees, who tend to place more trust in the information they get from the people who manage them directly than they do in information that comes from HR.
If line managers believe that the changes you’re proposing will work, the chances are they will. Don’t necessarily expect quick wins, though. Line managers may not be enthusiastic at first – particularly if they’ve traditionally had a low level of accountability within your organisation. If you meet resistance from line managers to getting involved with designing your scheme, it could be because they aren’t used to being part of the change process. So find ways to get them involved – by running workshops, for example (one of the things Which? did with their line managers) and making sure you keep them in the loop by communicating key developments to them and asking for their opinions and suggestions.. .
If you’re looking to change behaviour, you have to bring people with you. And you can only do that when they feel a sense of ownership. That comes about when people have been involved in making something happen. Expecting line managers to implement reward policies they haven’t had any involvement with won’t work. So bring them on board as soon as you can.