Few things frustrate a manager more than dealing with team members who are not motivated in achieving their goals. And it appears that this is becoming more frequent in the workplace.
Increasing compensation is the quick fix, the easy move that most, I would say, ordinary managers, rely on. And we all know that a salary raise will enhance employee interest, engagement, and possibly performance in the short term, but it will not fix medium- or long-term motivation.
And this is when our management skills will come in handy. It's here that you can tell the difference between an inexperienced or average manager and a great one.
Setting meaningful and compelling goals is an important management skill, but how can we keep them on track without losing their excitement or being distracted by other stimuli in their environment once the goal has been set?
Whatever goal you're trying to achieve with your employee, the following suggestions can help you keep them motivated and on track until the task is completed successfully.
Visualize the End Result
If you set a goal for your employee that is important to him (i.e. improving his presentation skills, successfully coordinating a new project, implementing a brand-new process with our Customer, or driving effective actions to improve quality results), we cannot consider this process to be set-and-forget.
Our responsibility is to assist our employee on his 'journey' to his desired outcome. That means you should have frequent and inspiring conversations with each other.
One of the first steps is helping him or her ‘see’ the end result. Asking the employee to describe himself as the person who has already achieved that goal.
Ask them to do it with as much detail as possible:
• What they see themselves doing
• What they hear themselves saying
• What new daily routines they will have to learn
• What behavioral changes they will demonstrate
Request that they write that description and keep it visible at all times when the two of you meet.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California, (re)writing your goals on a daily basis increased by 42% the chances of achieving them.
Another helpful strategy is to have a picture of them once they've accomplished their goal (for example, a photoshop image of them receiving an award from that Customer).
So, help them explore their future state. Make them ‘enjoy’ in the present moment the success of achieving that goal in the future.
You will become a 'transformational' mentor or coach for them, rather than just a 'transactional' manager.
Set intermediate goals and Reward Them for Small Victories
It’s a 'management malpractice' to set up challenging goals for the employees at the beginning of the year, and just expect that they will, by themselves, keep on track and steadily progress toward those goals.
That's why the majority of them dread end-of-year appraisal reviews.
The only way to achieve a difficult objective is to break it down into small daily, weekly, and monthly goals that build up to large results in the end.
Those ‘small goals’ cover three main purposes:
1. Provide, and solidify, the required learning,
2. Keep them focused and engaged
3. Bring satisfaction and motivation to keep going
So, don't forget to set tiny, doable weekly or monthly intermediate goals for your employees, and reward them at each stage.
Make a weekly or monthly review with your employee a priority on your schedule, demonstrating your active interest and ongoing support. Your personal attention alone may be a sufficient incentive for your employee to remain focused and motivated. Money isn't everything.
Involve the support of others
We have a tendency to keep our goals to ourselves (and possibly our boss) and work on them alone. Your chances of achievement will skyrocket if you share your goal with someone else.
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) discovered the following in a recent study:
65% of participants completed a goal if
1. They asked someone to hold them accountable, and
2. They committed the completion to that person.
95% of people successfully met their goals when
1. They did the above, and
2. They met regularly with their accountability partner to discuss their progress and success.
As a manager, you can play the position of 'accountability partner,' or, better yet, you can develop an accountability partner system in your company. Your employees' chances of accomplishing their objectives will improve considerably.
As you can see, there are other, and better, ways to encourage and engage your employees in reaching their objectives than simply rewarding them with money.
These three simple strategies will not only improve your outcomes but will also position you as a reference manager in the organization, one who will attract the best employees and achieve higher results.