To motivate employees to work hard, some employers institute production quotas. It’s a way to encourage effort and achieve outcomes. However, while the theory behind production quotas is solid, they can also produce unintended consequences for employers. For example, dedicated employees chasing an incentive related to the quota may attempt to achieve their quota at the expense of anything else—including quality. So while employers mean well, it’s important to follow a few key guidelines if you impose production quotas on workers.
Use them on a short-term basis
Production quotas are one way to get the job done if you have a seasonal push or are trying to wrap up a project. They can help motivate employees to ramp up efforts to finish a task, but there needs to be a clear ending in sight. Long-term quotas can lead to a decrease in the quality of the end product.
Focus on independent contributors
Production quotas are also most effective when employees can produce for themselves—they contribute to healthy and harmless competition. They can also help you easily identify top performers. It’s important to note that quotas imposed on teams can quickly go awry if one teammate isn’t producing at the same level as others—leading to negative energy in your workplace.
Keep quotas realistic
If you set your goals too high, employees will give up before they even start. The key is to pick an end goal that is challenging, but not impossible. If your quotas end up being too easy to achieve, you can always re-adjust them.
Prepare for turnover
If your quotas are linked to a compensation, incentive, or bonus structure, you may often find yourself in need of new workers. Pay-for-performance situations are often seen as uncomfortable and unsustainable by employees. But if you have a plan for re-staffing, this can make it easier to maintain production quotas in your workplace.
Communicate well and often
Give your employees regular feedback on how they’re performing and what they may need to adjust. If they have difficulty meeting quotas, work with them on what they can change and improve their performance.
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