Charter Scores with Football-Themed Incentive Program

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With the St. Louis Rams battling in the Super Bowl yesterday, one could certainly excuse employees at Charter Communications Inc. for being a bit obsessed about football.

But Bill Shreffler, senior vice president of Charter's central division based in St. Louis, has used the pigskin theme for more than a year to help build team spirit among his employees and motivate them to meet aggressive sales goals for basic, digital and high-speed Internet.

Shreffler, who was head of the MSO's central region last year before being promoted to lead the larger central division, created a program called the Central Cyclones and gave each of his employees a team jersey with their name on it. They were also designated positions: marketing executives as running backs, customer care personnel as wide receivers and system general managers as quarterbacks.

Local systems and departments were encouraged to come up with their own nicknames, such as the Intimidators.

The football theme helped encourage employees to work together as a team and to think about their jobs in terms of winning and losing.

"In most companies, every day gets to be like the other," Shreffler said. "It's hard to identify wins and losses."

Results improve when they are spelled out clearly. "People don't want to lose," he said. "They want to win."

As a daily reminder of the program, Shreffler had a green rug designed to look like a football field, replete with a Central Cyclones logo, laid outside his office.

Last month, Charter CEO Carl Vogel and chief operating officer Dave Barford cheered on the Central Cyclones at a pep rally, celebrating the central region's company-wide leadership across all its sales parameters, Shreffler said.

In March, Charter will honor the "most valuable players" from the central region during an awards banquet. Prizes include trophies, shopping sprees, vacation trips and DVD players. One MVP from last year's awards ceremony — when Shreffler held a similar incentive program in the Michigan region — was awarded a trip to yesterday's Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Shreffler also had 82 Cyclone team rings made up for key management players. Those who stay with Charter and meet their sales goals in consecutive years will receive diamonds to replace rosette stones that were initially embedded in the rings.

Several of Charter's programming partners support the incentive program by sponsoring the awards ceremonies and prizes, Shreffler said. In return, the programmers are invited to the celebrations and also receive team jerseys.

"Everybody wants to support a winning team," he said.

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