If you want to grow your company and continue to reach new goals, chances are you will also need to make some changes along the way to how you do things. And change is hard, even when it’s a positive change. In a previous post about how to reignite growth in your business, I highlighted three main obstacles to change: Overwhelm, Lack of Buy-in/Motivation, and Force of Habit. My first post on this topic addressed “Overwhelm.” This post is about “Buy-in,” and how to create the motivation necessary for real change and progress.
Buy-in is a feeling of motivation to do something. Without motivation, you won’t act. Or you won’t take enough action to get the desired result. If you set a goal because you think it’ something you should do, but there’s no connection to a true motivation for you, it will be difficult to stick to your plan. If you don’t have a strong sense of “why” you want to achieve this goal, or if someone else has set the goal for you, you might not be motivated at all.
S.M.A.R.T. Goals are a very popular tool in corporate America. This method breaks down goals into Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable, Time oriented chunks. They are extremely useful, except for one issue: the motivation piece is missing! S.M.AR.T. goals don’t provide you with that sense of motivation and emotion that inspire you to act. And if you are not truly motivated and bought into achieving the goal, as soon as the going gets tough, and you hit an obstacle, your determination will wane, and you will give up.
So how do you get connected to your goals? If you want to stay motivated to make change, reach your goals, and jump start your business growth, start with a clear vision, and put it in writing.
For example, let’s say your goal is to expand sales by developing a new product. Write a vision of what that product will look like. Be very specific about what will constitute success for that product, how it will affect your business, how it will affect your life, how you will feel when that product is successfully launched and selling, etc. If you can feel the excitement when you read your vision, then you can always tap back into that for motivation.
If you write “my widget business will be selling a million widgets a year, and I will be earning a million dollars,” this is not specific enough. Make your vision robust and tangible. Describe the awards that you’ve won for new and innovative products, the dream house you now own on your own private island where you work a few hours a day from your high tech home office. Write about how you travel all over the world looking for new and better ways to produce widgets. Or whatever your ideal vision is. But make sure you tap into what really excites you about your new product, and your role in designing, producing and selling that product.
Many people believe that if you want to motivate someone, or yourself, give them a reward. The truth is, external rewards can actually de-motivate you. Studies have shown that when it comes to tasks that require creativity, innovation and initiative, once a reward is introduced, people will do only as much as they need to do to get the reward, and nothing above or beyond.
When it comes to true, internal motivation – the kind that produces productivity and innovation – three elements must be present:
Autonomy. Autonomy means choice, and it is the most important of the three elements. You will always be more successful in your endeavors if you feel that you are acting out of choice. Recognize that you have choices in your life, and commit to your choice of working towards this specific goal. Even if it’s someone else’s goal, you can choose to put your effort into it. The more autonomy and choice that you have in what you do and how you do it, the more motivated you will be to act.
I cringe when I hear someone say “I don’t have a choice, I have to do this.” That attitude sets you up for failure, because you are not choosing to take action, you are not bought in, and you will likely not have the motivation to keep going when the going gets tough.
When it comes to goals, if you set the goal for yourself – vs. someone else setting it for you, if you feel excited about it, and you are acting with a full sense of volition and choice, you will experience true internal motivation
This also holds true if you want your employees to experience buy-in and motivation for your change initiative. Set goals with them, not for them. Support their autonomy by showing them that you see issues from their point of view. Give meaningful feedback and information. Provide a good amount of choice regarding what to do and how to do it. Use non-controlling language like “think about” or “consider” vs. “must” or “should.” When it comes to employee motivation and engagement, control leads to compliance, but autonomy leads to engagement.
Mastery. People have a tendency to seek out new experiences and challenges in order to explore, learn and grow. Mastery is the desire to get better at something that matters to you. It is important for personal fulfillment. To achieve mastery, set a challenge that is not too easy or too difficult. You want it to be reasonable, achievable, and well matched to your abilities.
If you want to motivate your team, encourage them to take on new and interesting projects and challenges. Making progress in your work is the single greatest motivator, so make sure you track and celebrate your progress, and do this for your employees as well.
Purpose: Your purpose is the “why” behind what you do. If you are connected to your purpose, you will have the fortitude to keep moving forward. It is worth it to take some quiet time to think about why you want to achieve your goal, to truly visualize the result, and the feelings that go along with that result.
When it comes to your business, you want to make sure that the goals you set for yourself, and the goals of your team are in line with the company’s purpose or mission. If you want to know if your team is aligned with your mission, do the following exercise:
Call a company or team meeting. Give each employee an index card, and without identifying themselves, have them write a one sentence answer to the following question: What is our company’s purpose? Then collect and read them out loud. Are they consistent or all over the board? If they are not consistent, you need to clarify and better communicate your company purpose. You can do this same exercise for a major project or change initiative, to make sure that your team understands and gets behind the purpose behind the initiative.
If you are struggling to make a change, and you find you and/or your team can’t move forward, create an environment that supports motivation and watch the progress begin!