I was talking to a friend recently about how we sometimes “spoil” the moment by being too focused on the destination — we do not stop to enjoy the process.
Let’s think about work for a moment, since you spend a lot of time at work. You set goals and you manage performance by measuring it against your goals.
This can be enjoyable if you are meeting or exceeding goals but if you are starting out on a goal, it may be useful to focus more on the journey towards the goal instead of just the goal itself.
Managers, especially high achievers, sometimes make the mistake of wanting to get to the end goal so fast that they forget to think about what it is like for the team to be working towards that goal.
It can sometimes feel like never-ending drudgery and when the team finally gets there, the manager sets another stretch goal! It can be tiring and demoralising.
Here are some ways that leaders can achieve goals while ensuring that the process of doing it is also enjoyable:
Set mini goals
When you set stretch goals, you can set people up for failure. Everybody likes some encouragement along the way. If people have to wait too long to feel a sense of accomplishment or completion, they tend to get discouraged.
If you believe that someone can do more, set them a series of reachable goals leading towards the ultimate goal. Even better, influence them to set the next milestone for themselves.
Make time to celebrate
The good thing about setting mini goals is that you have an excuse to have many mini celebrations. When you mark out a successful milestone, you are, in effect, reinforcing that good behaviour.
“Success attracts success” and this is true when it comes to behaviour. Every time someone gets in touch with success, it not only spurs that individual to do more, it also anchors him into that feeling of accomplishment; that feeling of doing something meaningful or useful.
All of us look for this sense of meaning in our work and the more often we get in touch with this, the better.
Measuring to reinforce and give feedback
People have many types of measurements at work, for example, lagging indicators — looking at what was done — and leading indicators — looking at current behaviours and actions that the team is performing.
Many businesses measure to track, because they want to get a pulse on things and use this data to take action when things are not on track.
But there is another purpose for measurement and this is to use the data to reinforce or mark out the good things that are happening.
By saying something like “I like what you are doing here as it has ‘X’ impact on our overall performance — please do that again!”, leaders can give specific feedback that is relevant to the people doing the work. It helps when performers get to see the impact of their work and the progress they are making towards their goals.