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Paul Hebert

Paul Hebert has over 20 years’ experience designing and presenting incentive, recognition, rewards and loyalty strategies to C-level audiences at Fortune 500 firms.

He has been interviewed by the BBC as an expert on influencing behavior and been quoted in USA Today (three times) regarding incentive travel. He has authored a monthly online column for Incentive Magazine (Mach 2007 – August 2009 ), wrote the Incentive Intelligence – a top-rated blog on incentives and influence for employees, distribution channels and consumers, and is a contributor at Fistful of Talent – a blog about talent management.

Paul also provides services as the Social Media Editor for the Enterprise Engagement Alliance. You can read some of Paul’s thoughts about recognition, incentives, and rewards at Symbolist here. You can also find Paul on Twitter here, Google+ here, and Linkedin here

1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?

For me – almost all of my work experience has been designing influence, incentive and reward and recognition programs for employees and dealer/distributor organizations. I can say that the biggest thing that prepared me for doing this successfully is failing a lot in little ways and in controlled situations. I’ve had great managers that gave me plenty of space for experimenting and for seeing the results of my efforts – good and bad.

My college degree is in mathematics and statistics so I was always the “rational” guy – planning and designing based on rational responses. However, we now know that the irrational brain drives more of our decision process than we expect and learning that through trial and error was key.

Also – I have had many positions where I was the manager and my role was to get things done through other people vs. doing them myself. I had great managers in my career and they all gave me the same advice – as a manager your job is to help others get what they want and need WHILE getting what the company wants and needs. That is what managers need to do to be successful.

1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?

I think some sort of formal education and degree in psychology would be extremely helpful – for all managers or anyone involved in shaping behaviors in an organization. The units of production today are human beings and understanding the user’s manual would be a huge asset. 

2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?

All of the above. I don’t think any job today is one-dimensional. We work so often in teams with diverse groups of people on very complex stuff so being analytical and in tune with others’ emotions and points of view is critical. The days of being able to shrug off an employee’s shortcomings are over I think. We used to be able to say – “ignore him – that’s just his way.” Now we don’t have that option – we need everyone to be better equipped. I’m not saying we don’t have dominant abilities – but we have to have some or all of what you mentioned if we’re going to be valuable to an organization. Unless you just lock someone in a room and have them slip code out from under the door. 

3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?

Speaking like a consultant – it depends.

For my team I’m an improver. For some of my clients I build – for the HR community when I write and speak I’m a thinker. My job varies day to day and person to person. I know not everyone has that in their career but my current role is such that I get to bounce around and be many different things. It’s one of the reasons I’m happy all the time.

4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?

Indirect in my current role – in that I am a subject matter expert but rely on others to help me get things done. We have 20+ people who I could theoretically have involved in a project but realistically my normal scope of influence is three or four maximum.

5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?

My overall role is one of brand evangelist, company mouthpiece, experimenter and point guy. In other words I’m the guy who worries about what is new and different and what is old and reliable and how to put those together to help our clients. If I do my job right we get more conversations with clients and potential clients about new business. If I do my job poorly we have fewer conversations – we have less business and we end up having to work harder at “selling” versus helping.

My goal is create information about our company’s point of view and allow like-minded clients to find us and engage in conversations that ultimately will improve their business.

I’m the guy that reduces sales friction I guess.

I believe and my company believes that we like to do business with people we like and respect and are following similar work/life paths. My job is to make sure those that think like us (and like the way we think) find us.

6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?

Yeah – I’m very safe. I work from home but travel to HQ regularly down in Dallas and to client locations. My biggest worries are infected paper cuts and getting struck by lightning while on a conference call.

Although – I am prone to “sitting disease” which is a real thing and something that they say impacts more people negatively than being overweight or smoking. I have to be cognizant of that and I have therefore begun looking into a stand up desk and using an app from a friend Fran Melmed ( @femelmed ) called HotSeat which reminds me to get up and move regularly.

7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?

A lot of what I do is based on what I am exposed to – what I hear, read, see and discuss with others so my job is very dependent on social media and being plugged into various steams of thinking. I don’t think many people realize how much time is spent just researching and finding information that shapes how one thinks. So a lot of what I do is curate and sift content for my clients and potential clients. That takes up a lot of time and energy –more than most people think.

Social media is a huge bonus. But having conversations is the real killer app. I’m convinced that social networks are the gateway drug for real life conversations. Therefore, feel free to connect and hit me up – as Frasier Crane said – “I’m listening.”

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.