3 Ways to Help Your Employees With Goal-Setting How can they achieve success if they don't visualize it first?

By Andre Lavoie

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Vince Lombardi famously said, "Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." Indeed, every team is made up of a group of individuals striving to do their best. Individual success results in team success.

Related: Are You Actually Setting Goals? Probably Not. Here's How in 3 Steps.

And setting goals plays a vital role in earning that success. It's fine to merely set goals and talk about what everyone wants to achieve, but how do people actually succeed and find measurable results?

In 2015, a Dominican University of California study provided one possible answer. The study looked at 149 participants in networking and business groups from the United States, Belgium, India, Japan, Australia and England and found that more than 70 percent of the participants who sent weekly updates to friends reported successful goal achievement, compared to 35 percent of those who kept their goals to themselves and didn't write them down.

The next question, then, is what different tactics can be used to identify a goal, develop an action plan and achieve an objective? Here are several techniques.

1. Be 'SMART' about it.

One of the most well-respected systems for goal-setting, SMART, defines a method that is easy to follow. The acronym stands for making goals "specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely."

How does someone travel to a destination not knowing where the intended destination is? Specificity acts as a road map. Knowing the specific intention is crucial to success, and following measurable metrics helps track progress.

To avoid frustrations, tell employees to make a goal specific, measurable and attainable. Keeping a realistic mindset will help them avoid biting off more than one can chew. Taking baby steps and celebrating small wins that culminate in a large victory is more effective and motivating than trying to scale Mount Everest in a week.

Deadlines are a must. They create a sense of urgency and don't allow procrastination. When the time frame is established, people tend to feel motivated.

Related: How to Seesaw Between the Why and the How of Goal-Setting

Do it 'write.'

Motivation wanes when the goals are not set in stone, or in this case, ink. Make sure employees are writing their goals down. University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson calls this practice "self-authoring." His 2010 study found that students using goal-setting practices involving writing saw a significant improvement in academic performance.

Writing down goals helps an employee tap into a growth mindset, where people realize that their strengths and abilities are not fixed and can be improved with time and effort. It also helps the writer visualize potential obstacles to be faced down the road.

So, guide employees, with tips on writing out goals in an effective way. Avoid negativity. Using phrases like "I don't want to procrastinate" is actually counterproductive. Instead, use the active voice and write, "I want to increase my focus and productivity."

Employees should also divide goals into smaller sub-goals that illustrate actionable steps. For the above example, add sub-goals, like turning off mobile devices during work hours, practicing meditation techniques and setting reminders for upcoming deadlines.

When goals are written in a positive, active voice and include actionable sub-goals, employees are engaged in a mindset where they know they can succeed.

Visualize success.

People visualize their future more than they think, but most people tend to see negative occurrences, which leads to stress, worry and anxiety. Professional athletes flip this switch and use visualization methods to see positive outcomes. They don't imagine losing their race, getting knocked out or overthrowing the cut-off man. They see victory.

So, show your staff victory, and train them to see it themselves. When using mental imagery, use all five senses. Employees should be so immersed in their mental experience that they feel that it's actually happening. They should act as the active agent in the moment, rather than as the audience, sitting on the sideline as spectators.

Ask what they see, hear, taste, smell, and touch when they are "receiving their award for their contribution to increased sales growth." What are they physically doing in that moment? These are important questions to consider when someone practices visualization.

Related: Are You Actually Setting Goals? Probably Not. Here's How in 3 Steps.

This is more than wishful thinking. Employees need to execute these imaginations and practice seeing them repeatedly.

How are you helping employees set and achieve their goals?

Andre Lavoie

Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the talent-management solution that helps companies identify, hire and retain more A players. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter.


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