Golf scorecards serve an important purpose for golfers playing a round of golf. For each hole, it provides information as to the number of shots one takes and it provides a standard number of shots one takes in order to be at par. Golfers know that if they take more shots than par, it is a bogey, or one shot below par is a birdie. The difficult to achieve but highly recognized is a “hole in one”. There is also a number of shots that a player can take before they have to pick up their ball and take the highest score. At the end of the game, the number of shots per hole are added up and the total score is compared to the par score for the set of holes. Unless you are a pro golfer, golfers are not usually consistent at playing each hole.  However, the total score provides an accurate picture of the player’s total game.

Incentive scorecards are the similar. Instead of 9 or 18 holes, there are two to five performance measures. The par number is the goal or target of the measure. When someone overachieves on their goal, the scorecard may state one or more levels of achievement that helps the participant know how much they have overachieved.  When goals are not reached they have a minimal score that they know is important to reach. At the end of the performance period, the score from each measure is added up to create a number or percentage of overall achievement, e.g., 110%, with 100% being the goal or target, similar to being on par.

Other similarities between the two scorecards come to mind. Sometimes in golf, players are in teams and play scotch or best ball or score. In the same way incentive plan performance measures can be individual, team, department or company based, such as profit. Sometimes things outside of a player’s control can influence the game, such as weather, course conditions and other players he or she is playing with. The same thing can happen with performance measures and goals on an incentive scorecard.

One can play golf without a scorecard and have a general idea of how he or she did. However, by keeping score a player’s strengths and weaknesses become clear and improvement can occur.

Both types of scorecards can be simple or complex, depending on the organization or the course. Some courses have many different tees, so that they have to put multiple pars on the scorecard. Men and women have different pars too and that may all appear on one scorecard. Organizations sometimes have too many measures or make the goals complex.

Incentive scorecards help measures, goals and incentive calculations become clear and improve participant understanding. They are most effective when:

  • There is a need to have multiple types of measures, for example:
    — Individual
    –Group (i.e., Regional, Strategic Accounts, Business Unit, or Corporate)
    –Multiple Financial Measures
    –Need to mix qualitative and quantitative measures
  • Not all measures are valued the same – need to weight them strategically
  • There is a range of performance levels and payout opportunities (not just a binary – yes/no – assessment of performance)
  • There is a need for a common mechanism that can be used in various situations, such as different types of jobs, functions or sub-organizations

Incentive Scorecard Illustration