Sometimes, leaders fall into the trap of believing that people are going to work harder for their employer than they will for their families or their own futures. This is simply not true. Human beings always have been and always will be driven to improve their own personal situation. You must tap into that motivation.
You set your corporate goals, get excited about those goals, and believe that because you pay these dedicated, professional employee's salaries, they're going to get excited, too. You assume that they'll put in 1,000% each and every day, 24/7, just like you do. And then you're surprised when that doesn't happen.
Think about it. I'm your employee. What scenario am I most likely to take action on?
Scenario A: You tell me I could earn a $10,000 bonus as a reward for doing my job well.
Scenario B: I realize I have to find a way to save $10,000 in order to send my child to college, or I want to take a $10,000 company-paid vacation to some destination I've always wanted to visit.
I will always come up with more efficient ways to take care of business in Scenario B. Once I'm engaged on a personal level, there's a powerful driving force that takes over. Your job as a leader isn't to repeat the corporate performance goal to me. It's to help me connect the dots - to link that corporate performance goal to my personal goal.
As a leader, you know that day after day, your people are faced with tasks that might be uncomfortable for them. You want to make sure that they're motivated to get done what needs to be done, and that they're not stuck in their comfort zones. You also know that it's very common for people to reach a plateau - a comfortable place where they're not really learning, growing, or asking themselves the tough questions. Guess what? When people are comfortable, they work at about 60-70% of their capacity. If you don't help them connect the dots to an external motivator, that's where they'll stay: in that 60-70% zone.
To avoid the stressful situation of being the only person who's emotionally invested in attaining the corporate goal, it's imperative that you learn to tie corporate goals to personal goals. Let's take the example of Juanita, a salesperson working on commission. Let's say Juanita's annual quota is $1 million dollars, and her commission on the would be $100,000. You simply sit Juanita down and say, "Here are the numbers: you quota is a million dollars, and your commission rate is 10%. You've got a great territory. Go for it." Chances are good that there would be some level of pushback, and if you are lucky, she would express that pushback during the meeting so you all could discuss a solution. But if you aren't lucky (and who is all the time?), you'd end the meeting thinking you'd accomplished something, Juanita would smile politely as she left, and you'd have no idea that she was spending every coffee break complaining to her co-workers about how unfair it is that she has absolutely no input about her annual sales targets.
But suppose that meeting went a little differently. Suppose you said, "Look, if you make your goal, Juanita, you're going to receive $100,000. Let's pretend for a second that you achieved that goal. What would you do with your $100,000?" Suppose you let Juanita think about that possibility and process it on her own. What would she come up with?
She might say something like this: "Well, I would put money toward retirement. I might put a down payment on a vacation home for my family, and I'd be able to put some of the money away for college for my daughter; she's only eleven, but I know she's going to need a good education." Now you can have a better discussion!
By understanding Juanita's personal goals, you'll know what to manage to when you're talking to her over the course of the year. You can meet with her on a quarterly basis and talk about her goals -- which happen to be your goals, too. If you find a way to remind her about her vacation home, her retirement plans, and saving for her daughter's college fund, that's going to be far more motivating to Juanita than another lecture about the importance of hitting quota. If you do that, you'll find that Juanita will work harder. She'll be much more aggressive and focused in trying to achieve her goal, because not it connects to something personal.
**Excerpted from The Road to Excellence: Six Leadership Strategies to Build a Bulletproof Business, by Dave Mattson and originally published in The Sandler Advisor.