My employees have figured out that their job performance doesn't really matter except at one critical time of the year. How do I motivate them to perform well year round?
The success of the company is dependent on one seasonal part of the year. Employees who prove themselves as valuable during this seasonal time can get away with poor performance the rest of the year without losing their job. Do I just accept this, or is there a way to inspire year-round performance?
From the information provided I can deduct you are in one of the situations below
1. You are part of the sales function and you are trying to motivate sales people
2. Your organization does annual performance reviews but only takes into account the most recent performance
3. You are an NBA coach and your players only try their hardest in the playoffs
Here's how to approach the 3 scenarios
1. Sales people are easy to figure out. They work for money. Change the way sales targets and commissions are set. Sales targets should be higher in the busy months and lower in the slow months. Restructure sales compensation to promote performance in the slow months – i.e. commissions are higher in slow months, lower in busy months.
2. When doing performance reviews studies have shown there is bias to the most recent performance. If you do an annual review, it is hard to remember how well an employee performed 9-12 months ago. It is much easier to remember and be biased to the most recent months. In order to solve this, you need to change how often reviews are held. Quarterly reviews/scores which roll up into annual reviews/scores will motive employees to perform in all quarters.
3. If you are an NBA coach, everyone knows, only the playoffs count. Just make sure your team gets there.