KRIS WEISS IS THE KIND OF guy who doesn't need a lot of motivation to do a good job. As lead builder for KB Home's new Indianapolis division, Weiss says he sets high expectations for himself on a daily basis. His reward is in knowing that he accomplished what he set out to do. But he's certainly up for a little friendly competition—especially if the reward is a free trip to Las Vegas and the chance at some other great prizes.
It's a good thing, because Weiss took home the top prize, a Harley Davidson, from the KBnxt Pro Bowl IV in January.
“When I won that thing, I was floored,” says Weiss, who since has been promoted to regional construction manager. “My guys from Indianapolis practically knocked me out of the stands.”
Now in its fourth year, the KBnxt Pro Bowl, which is held in October, is a football-themed competition to boost performance in the final quarter of the year in the areas of sales, starts, and deliveries. The event is named after the company's business model, dubbed KBnxt for “the next generation of performance.” Teams from each of the company's 30 divisions were made up of employees who work in sales, construction, customer service, and mortgage, says Gary Ray, senior vice president of human resources.
“Each Tuesday morning, everyone across the company was getting the low-down on the MVPs and who hit their targets,” Ray says.
Teams Hit The Field As in football, the teams earned touch-downs, field goals, safeties, and extra points for achieving various goals. At the end of the year, the points were added up to determine the winners. The MVPs from each division won trips to the KBnxt Pro Bowl at Sports Center Las Vegas, where team members could participate in a variety of athletic-type events, such as rock climbing, go-cart racing, putt-putt golf, and baseball practice in batting cages.
For every event they participated in, they got to enter a drawing for prizes that included a big-screen TV, a trip to the NFL's Pro Bowl in Hawaii, and the Harley. Each of the approximately 700 MVPs also received a company jacket, gift certificates, and gaming chips to use in the casinos. To make the rewards as meaningful as possible to the winners, the company was willing to be flexible and tailor them to their needs. The winner of the trip to the Pro Bowl, for example, couldn't go to the game, so she received the cash equivalent to the prize and used the money to visit family. Weiss, too, received a check for the cash value of the motorcycle he won, so he could pick up a bike from the Harley dealership in Indianapolis.
KB chairman and CEO Bruce Karatz created the KBnxt Pro Bowl because, like most sales-oriented companies, the bulk of its internal buzz and excitement centered on sales contests. That was fine for recruiting and retaining people who work in sales offices, but it did nothing to inspire—or to hang on to—employees in other departments.
“We hadn't done any celebratory things for construction or for customer service,” Ray says, “and that's the true lifeline for satisfying customers.”