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Teach Them to Achieve

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Setting goals is the easy part, helping staff believe and achieve them is where the work really starts. Annie Lawler looks at how to teach staff the ability to achieve.


Poor communication contributes massively to underperformance and demotivation in any workforce, whilst clear and open communication has the opposite effect.

One area which is often overlooked is giving clear direction to those who work for us. Job descriptions, contracts and letters of appointment give an overview of what is expected, but clear goals on specific tasks help employees to understand exactly what is needed from them and when.

Once people know what's expected of them, it's then good to be able to teach them how to ensure they fulfill the agreed aims.

The Secret
Many of you may have seen a lot of publicity given recently to a DVD and book called The Secret. Even a couple of episodes of "Oprah" were dedicated to it recently in the States. However, whilst there may be a lot of hype about this particular film at the moment, there is a lot of great common sense behind the general principles of the "law of attraction" and a lot of it has to do with setting intentions and then reinforcing them in the subconscious mind as often as possible to make things happen. Quantum physics allows us to understand that we are forms of energy and our thoughts are a part of that energy. Where we focus our attention, energy flows. In other words, what we focus on is what we get.

The truth is, there is no "secret". These kind of visualisation practices have been around for thousands of years and some of the world’s most successful people use these techniques regularly and have even written books about it, including Stephen Covey’s The seven habits of highly effective people . It's just that people forget how useful and powerful these techniques can be.

Putting it into practice
So, as well as setting goals for staff, wouldn't it be a good idea to set about teaching them how to achieve the goals using this kind of technique?

Think about what happens when you really, desperately want something in life. We picture it in our minds, daydream about it, see ourselves enjoying the situation. And how many times have you read articles which encourage you to write your goals down once they have been set? The reason is that each repeated thought, sight or signal to the subconscious about that goal reminds the subconscious of your aim and reinforces your beliefs about the benefits to be obtained from achieving it.

The same principles apply in advertising and publicity. Repeat the message, appeal to the target emotionally and get it across through as many channels as you can and you can create a belief in a product, image or idea. After a while you believe you need to buy that watch or drive that car or drink this drink in order to be happy and to be like the images portrayed in the advertising.

Of course, it’s not all about writing things down and meditating and there are actions which need to be taken each day to move towards those goals, but this is no mumbo jumbo. It’s a practical method of achieving goals, which makes it more likely that your employees reach the goals you agree with them and here it is.

1. Speak to the employee and get their buy in to the objective, goal or target. They have to see a personal benefit which they have an emotional attachment to, so you’ll need to be clear on that. It could be simply the pride of achieving the target or a specific reward or promotion, but it must be something that will make them feel good about succeeding in this task.

2. Write it down and agree it with them.

3. Get them to spend 15-20 minutes or so thinking about what achieving this goal means to them and the company. They’ll need to sit somewhere quiet and be able to close their eyes and concentrate. Ask them to see, hear, smell, taste and feel what achieving this goal means to them and then ask them to write what they see down in words and to keep them somewhere they will see them regularly (in a diary perhaps or on a computer screen?). Then ask them to put some kind of visual imagery (posters, pictures, drawings, sketches etc) near their desk which reminds them constantly of how achieving the goal is going to make them feel and what results they are going to achieve.

4. Ask them every day to spend 15-20 minutes at least concentrating and focusing on those feelings, written words and images that they have produced in association with the goals.

5. Ask them to keep a log of progress so they can see that every day that they have taken at least one step or more towards achieving the agreed goals.

Maintaining this kind of focus concentrates the energy on the job in hand and the overall aim and in doing so, lowers stress considerably. Directing emotional energy towards it can be extremely motivating and repeated exposure to the goal, is a constant reminder of what needs to be achieved.

Sound a bit far fetched? Try it and see what happens. There is tremendous practical advantage in the use of these techniques in achieving goals. If you need help, I run sessions on visualisation and goal setting. Just let me know. I'm visualising the benefits already!


About the author: Annie Lawler is a stress management specialist who works with employers to improve staff retention and performance, to reduce absenteeism and to follow best practice on stress management in the workplace. She can be contacted on 0772 581 8884 or [email protected].

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