Celebrate both recorded and undocumented achievements
Over six decades ago, HBR published a now-famous article about employee motivation, where progress ranked more effective than rewards or recognition. More recent research confirms their findings.
According to HBR, only 5% of leaders know what truly motivates workers (hint: it’s progress).
Your ability to notice progress toward operational goals will directly affect how long and how unswervingly your people stick to the course.
Some wins will be baked into your strategy (see above, “map milestones”). Other victories will be wholly unanticipated. Your guiding coalition team will keep an eye out for indications that the team is making strides toward your strategy’s success. For example:
Signs your on track with your strategy
- • A customer casually mentions they’ve noticed a change
- • Your KPI’s show a small percentage change in the right direction
- • Local news outlets cover one of your public efforts
- • Another business leader asks your advice in the area of your new initiative
- • A team member brainstorms a new idea to do more with less
- • Formerly skeptical or resistant employees realize and admit the work isn’t as difficult as they’d expected
Create a mix of spontaneous and scheduled celebrations for your small wins. But whatever you do, don’t dismiss them.
Untangle complexities to help your people perform
By this point, you’ve equipped your employees, yes, but now it’s time to clear the way for them. Enabling your people (what we discussed earlier) means giving them the tools, skills, resources, and grace to do their work.
Untangling complexities means removing hurdles to help your team excel.
Organizational change has a way of exposing old obstacles that inhibit people’s ability to get behind a new strategy. Adobe’s communications teams experienced an instance of this. Each group in the department (search engine optimization, or SEO; public relations; social media marketing; etc.) was competing against another because of conflicting metrics. Their leader’s brilliant solution wasn’t to change their individual goals, but instead, to give each micro-goal a common denominator: the strategy.
Too often, departmental interdependencies sabotage progress. Combine your efforts and produce more momentum toward achieving your strategic operational goals.
Prevent a backslide — prioritize retention
Robert Tanner, founder and principal consultant of Business Consulting Solutions, calls success a trap. That’s because achievements quickly become old news, and the team rests on their laurels.
Avoid this trap by anchoring your achievement into culture. Integrate into behavior norms the new practices that got you here. Ingrain your new methods and philosophies into shared values. Otherwise, your achievements will become blips on the screen, not a sustained, ongoing improvement.
To do this, continue showing employees “WIIFM,” which stands for “What’s In It For Me.” The longer you do, the less likely your people are to regress toward old or resistant ways, as consultants at the Strategy Management Institute illustrate:
Source: the Strategy Management Institute
In his book Only the Paranoid Survive, Andy Grove, a cofounder of Intel, says,
“Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
Achieving your goals is nothing if you don’t incorporate your “new way” into your company culture, and thus, hang onto that success.
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