Creative Ways to Motivate Competitive Intelligence Team Members in a Small Business

How do you reward competitive intelligence team members for their efforts and expertise? Well, increased pay, extra benefits, and bonuses for their extra work are always effective, but assuming that you’re already paying your employees a decent wage, you may want a less expensive way to reward and motivate team members for the extra work they put in by serving on the intel team.

Of course, there’s no substitute for monetary compensation, but when employees feel that they’re already being paid a respectable wage, recognition and the opportunity to be involved in compelling projects are often all the perks they need to serve enthusiastically on the CI team.

Managers often mistakenly believe that money is a strong motivator, but research proves otherwise. Studies show that lack of appropriate compensation is a dissatisfier, whereas recognition is a motivator.

Establish the vital importance of competitive intelligence

More than ever, people want to feel as though their life has significance and a purpose. By establishing CI as a vital component of your organization’s success, you convince members of the intel team that they’re contributing to something that’s vitally important.

Only the CEO can really make a statement about the value of the CI team. Continually demonstrate the value of CI to the CEO, and make sure that the CEO is aware of CI wins as they occur. Also, remind the CEO, as necessary, of the importance of publicly recognizing CI’s contributions to the organization’s existence and success.

Never let a member of your CI team labor in obscurity.

How to use conventions and trade shows as rewards for competitive intelligence team members

The workaday world gets boring, especially to pathfinders and listeners, who hunger for stimulation. Change things up occasionally by sending CI team members to conventions, conferences, and trade shows. Encourage qualified personnel to get involved in standards groups — professional organizations that encourage an industry to adopt a standard, such as a certain cellphone protocol.

In addition to rewarding and motivating team members, these venues are a prime source for competitive intel, where team members can gather the following resources:

  • Catalogs and information sheets with details of products that are soon to hit the market

  • Contact information for industry insiders

  • Introductions to potential suppliers and distributors

  • Information from conversations with industry insiders

    Review the ethical standards with the intel team members before they attend an event. Make sure they don’t obtain information from a competitor by crossing legal or ethical lines. At such events, there’s usually a boatload of information available in plain view (out in the open), where no legal or ethical restrictions apply to your acquisition and use of the information for CI purposes.

  • Insights about the future of the industry and which standards are likely to prevail

Personnel who gather information for CI by attending trade shows and conferences and participating in standards groups are often referred to as stealth team members.

For example, engineers attending a professional gathering may view a presentation that involves technology that may impact the future of your company. Their membership to certain professional groups gives them access to highly specialized information and enables them to work undercover for CI at the same time. They’re not breaking any laws or acting unethically, because the information is in plain view.

Plan ahead. Discuss the type of information you want to gather and from whom, and ask CI team members to produce an intelligence report that details what they discovered. Far too often, people attend these events and gather valuable information that remains in a bag when they return home.

Spring for classes and other training for creative intelligence team members

CI classes, seminars, books, and memberships to CI organizations all cost money, so they’re not exactly ways to do CI on a shoestring budget, but they are more affordable solutions for developing the requisite expertise internally as compared to hiring outside experts.

Consider setting aside a small portion of your budget to cover CI training for top-performing members of your CI team. They can pass on what they learn to other team members. Some extra education is a great way to improve the CI team while maintaining the team’s commitment to your organization.

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