The PROMPT: The Great Motivator for Completing Tasks


I’m amazed at how many times I’ve heard business owners and managers say, “When we ask an employee to do a certain task or action, they do it for awhile, but then forget or won’t do it consistently—sometimes, not at all!”

Here’s a recent example: One of our new software clients told me a story about how he needed an employee to fill out a special form the company had designed, which included the description and quantity of finished goods being inventoried for a customer. The employee had failed to do this consistently—so, out of frustration, my client ended up filling out the forms himself.

I could feel the tension emanating from the client and his managers as we discussed this problem. They seemed totally perplexed, that this simple task and other tasks could not be completed as a matter of course by their employees.

“Do you have a PROMPT for your employees to do certain task?” I asked.

“A what? You mean like a jab with a hat pin?”

“Or,” another offered cheerfully, “maybe a two-by-four?”

“Not exactly—thinking something a little less painful!” I suggested.

After explaining what I meant by a “prompt,” I could tell that my client and his managers had actually believed they should just be able to show an employee how and when to do something and the task would continue to carried out.

Well, tell that to the airlines!

Airline pilots would be lost without a series of PROMPTS. Now you might not think a pilot should need a prompt to remember to lower the wheels before landing, but that’s just one of the hundreds of critical steps a pilot must remember in order to take off and land a plane safely. The pilot’s checklist of PROMPTS helps to ensure that not a single important detail is forgotten.

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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