Progress – The Unsung Hero

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Happy New Year. It’s been two months since my last blog and I thought I’d start the New Year with a subject that hopefully we can all appreciate for the year ahead!

It’s a new year and most us will be setting our own personal goals whilst for some of us it’s a new financial year which means setting goals and strategies of how to achieve them on both a personal and a business level. Every year companies strategise and plan for the short term, mid-term and long term, sometimes having 3 day workshops with numerous directors equating to a lot of money around the table. Business planning is critical for success and should happen within any good business, but the key missing ingredient when we all leave the session pumped, is progress. Time and time again, in so many cases the intent is great, the targets and how to achieve them are sound, but the execution is never fully followed through properly. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to this. We all have day jobs and for most of us the additional actions needed to achieve the strategic goals get put on the back burner, even though we know how important they are. The immediate pressure is always a piece of work for our boss or a client’s deadline.

So what should we do to ensure we hit targets? Progress is the key, even if it’s small, with progress comes results, small maybe, but results none the less. With progress comes a sense of achievement which ignites emotions and motivation and helps drive our psyche to do more, to achieve more, even if progress does not give us the results we expect or want. If that happens the results of progress can give a guide of what we might need to change to continue a different route for our business or personal growth. But how do we ensure we achieve progress and what will help us drive progress?

There are a lot of ideas out there on how we engage people to make progress. One of my favourites is gamification. I recently listened to  The Game Changer, more about that here  a book written by Dr Jason Fox. On a side note if you ever get a chance to go to one of Dr Fox’s talks then I strongly recommended you do so, for upcoming events look here. The book looks at gamification and how, if we turn work or tasks into a game we get better results or at least encourage progress. One great example which Dr Fox cites is Linked-In. When Linked-In first came out it was struggling to get users to complete their profile page. To help motivate people to make progress on their profile information, Linked-In added their ‘Profile Completeness Bar’ which is a circle that fills-in the more information you complete about yourself. You are the only person who can see your profile strength and the circle fills with a different colour with each level you achieve. There are 5 levels from beginner to all-star. The profile strength indicator was necessary to continuously motivate users to update their profiles and remain active within the programme. Did it work? Bet ya bottom dollar it did. Linked-In saw a huge increase in the uptake of users completing their profile and this little gamification tweak was a game changer for them.

Harvard Business Review ran a survey in 2013 asking about the keys to motivating teams and individuals at work. Their findings were quite fascinating. Managers ranked the following as most important:

  • Recognition for good work.
  • Tangible incentives.
  • Value of interpersonal support.
  • Clear goals and strategies.

Fascinatingly very few of the managers surveyed ranked progress first, but as far back as 1968, Frederick Herzberg published an article titled ‘One more Time: How do you Motivate Employees? This article stated that people are most satisfied with their jobs when those jobs give them the opportunity to experience achievement which is about making consistent, meaningful progress.

That was 1968! Haven’t we learnt anything?

So I believe that this year we all need to focus on Progress, consistent and meaningful Progress and I will be working hard on my own, my teams and my businesses Progress to achieve our strategies and goals.

I’d be fascinated to know how you drive Progress.

Have a great 2016.

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