It’s hard to believe we’re into the second quarter of the year. The dawning of April made me think about my New Year resolutions which, I’m afraid I had almost forgotten as January seems such a distant memory. I realised that after the first two or three weeks of enthusiasm “life” just got in the way and I slipped back into my old habits.

Does anything work?

This made me think about whether I had actually kept any of my New Year resolutions. Astonishingly, to me at least, the answer was “yes”. So what made those occasions different? The answer was that I had a goal. In one case this was a measurable goal, to achieve a desired weight. In the other it was less measurable, to become fitter so I could enjoy the holiday we had booked which involved trekking in a rainforest. In the first case I wrote down a number (which I won’t disclose!) and weighed myself regularly until I had achieved it. In the second case, I was inspired to get fitter by seeing pictures of people of a similar age enjoying themselves whilst engaged in strenuous activity which I knew I would find difficult. I kept visual reminders of the amazing holiday we were going to have, which would be all the better if I didn’t have concerns about fitness and the horrible embarrassment of not being able to keep up with everyone else. Both approaches worked.

Motivation and inspiration

As a Regional Director I was used to measuring our progress against set goals. How many customer visits, how many delegates attending courses, how much financial contribution……. all the usual stuff which many people will recognise. This did work, for the most part. My team knew they had to achieve certain targets which would be reviewed on a regular basis and this provided motivation towards achieving them. It became woven into everyday practice.

However, every so often we felt the need to do something more inspiring, to develop a new idea, something we hadn’t tried before. What was needed then was to generate excitement for the project, to get everyone involved, to get their ideas and their buy in for making it a success. This was not only about setting goals but also about painting a picture of what success would look and feel like. It’s a great way of bringing a team together and also for introducing some fun.

It seems to me both approaches are needed. Targets are important but sometimes you also need a little excitement; painting a vivid picture is sometimes as important as measuring performance against numbers in achieving success.

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