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The hardest thing to do is break inertia - especially when the request is miles from the starting point. Great post Ann - we all need to remember the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step - and all the other cliches. But they are true. Get moving in a direction and it is much easier to keep moving in that direction.

I think when Collins and Porras coined the phrase BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) too many assumed that was the end of the work. The real work is getting the little things moving in the BHAG direction. A BHAG alone is nothing but words.

Thanks for the reminder....


Thanks for the comment - and for articulating what always felt to me to be true: A BHAG alone is nothing but words. What matters - especially today - is spurring movement in the right direction.

Ellen Weber at Brain Leaders and Learners just had a fascinating post about why this works. Here's the link.


Ann- Great post and reference to an article with strong ideas. I love the concept of celebrating "little victories" as I call them. Recognition can be creative without breaking the bank; see my post, "Do you have an employee who deserves an Oscar?" of February 25, 2008 in The HR Answer Blog in www.allbusiness.com.

Excellent post, Ann. Your final point -- "whisker goals combined with nominal value recognition awards (cash or non-cash) could be a winning strategy" -- is precisely correct. Many companies have adjusted their strategic objectives to get through this recession. Do employees know what they are? If so, does the average employee have any idea how he can help the company achieve those objectives? I think not in most cases.

Recognition is a key tool to make that happen. Recognize employees frequently, quickly and meaningfully (as you say, "nominally," but in a way that sticks) when they do something in their daily work that ultimately helps the company achieve those objectives. This helps the employee understand why their job is important and want to repeat those critical tasks. What a positive way to achieve bigger goals -- by thanking people for achieving whisker goals.

I wrote about an interesting way to look at this here: http://globoforce.blogspot.com/2009/02/making-most-of-your-employee.html.

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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