I watched an amazing video the other day. Professional golfer, Rory McIlroy, was challenged to attempt a 50-foot putt on a glass surface. After missing his first attempt, Mr. McIlroy was successful on his second try. How does this relate to compensation you ask?
1. Focusing on accuracy is essential…regardless of the environment
Golfers must putt on all types of surfaces in all types of weather. The best professionals have similar scores in almost every tournament, regardless of the conditions. It’s not always possible to know what to expect. When you watch the video, you might be tempted to write off Rory’s success to luck. But, his first attempt only missed by a mere half an inch. Amazingly, this meant that as the ball was hit there was only a margin of error of five one-hundredths of an inch between success and failure. He focused on the correction, made a tiny adjustment and the ball dropped in on his second attempt. Accuracy at the start is critical to accuracy at the finish.
2. You have to practice…a lot
We often focus on a task only when a deadline looms. Worse, we seldom spend time “trying out” compensation ideas during our slower times. Ask any professional athlete, musician or artist and they will tell you they practice more than you can imagine. Great golfers have made hundreds of thousands of putts during practice. Photographers publish one picture for every hundred or thousand they take. How many sales compensation plans have you designed just to track potential results? How many long-term incentive programs have you created in a hypothetical mode to prove your proof of concept before you make it real?
3. If you miss your goal, you have to be ready and willing to try again…immediately
Adjustments should be expected. Almost no one, not even the pros that practice all the time, get it right the very first time. Failure is not necessarily a reason to jump to something else. You may just need to adjust and try again (and again). Have a plan for how you would approach things differently if it doesn’t work. Be ready to put that plan in action as soon as it becomes clear that the prior attempt is unsuccessful.
So much of what we do is like putting on glass. The surface is unfamiliar and things move faster than expected. Something that looks smooth at first glance is bound to have curves and undulations over time. Our margin for error is small and success may offer only fleeting praise. But, focus, practice and quick adjustments can allow you to be successful in even the most challenging and unexpected conditions.
Dan Walter is the President and CEO of Performensation and is focused on the needs of small and mid-sized public and private companies. Dan is working with fellow Compensation Café writers, Ann Bares and Margaret O’Hanlon on a new book due later this year. Dan is a co-author of “The Decision Makers Guide to Equity Compensation”, “If I’d Only Known That”, “GEOnomics 2011” and “Equity Alternatives.” Dan is frequently requested as a dynamic and humorous speaker covering compensation and motivation topics. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @Performensation and @SayOnPay.