A recent Gallop poll revealed that 71 percent of workers are “not engaged” in their work. The longer a worker stays with a company the more disengaged they become. They begin to sabotage the company’s efforts, look for ways to hide out rather than produce, and lose interest in the organization’s success.
Here are five ways for you to stay focused and to keep those working with you engaged as well.
1. Have a mission that is bigger than you
It is easy to fall into the trap of driving a business by and for the bottom line. “We need to increase profitability,” is the battle cry of many a manager or owner. The truth is that most people do not care about the company’s profits unless they are part of a profit sharing program, or have heavy incentives.
The mission needs to be bigger than money. Providing the most unbelievable customer service in the industry, providing the highest return on investment, or creating the reputation for being the best in the class all provide a cause that people can rally around.
People want and need a cause. They want to excel and earn more, but most of the time money alone is not enough. If your mission is big enough, you will attract others to it and your road to success will become immensely easier.
2. Create short-term goals
Short-term success can be a real boost to morale. By having weekly, daily, and sometimes even hourly goals we can measure and gauge our success. Do you know what you want to accomplish this week? Do you know what you want to get done by the end of the day?
Think back over the past year. What are the two or three most productive days you’ve had? Were they “Mondays” when you were trying to dig out from a weekend off and a list of phone calls to make? Did those days come mid-week as things were cruising along? Were they “Fridays” as your week came to a close?
If you are like most people, I would be willing to bet a lot of money that your most productive days were the single days that fell right before you left your office for vacation. The reason that those specific days are so productive is because you have defined tasks and defined deadlines. Those defined deadlines become your short-term goals. If you have to return five phone calls, submit a report, and finish a proposal for a major account before you can leave town, you get it done.
This Herculean effort is possible because you have such specific goals with specific deadlines that force you to ignore anything going on around you. You stay focused. This is the mind set that you should work toward achieving on a regular basis.
3. Reward successes
Whether you are dealing with employees or just yourself, it is great to reward your successful endeavors. Determine the reward ahead of time, and then use the reward as an additional motivator.
What do you really want? What is a realistic and appropriate level of performance that will justify a specific reward? A reward may be as simple as a half-day off, or buying yourself a small gadget that you’ve been wanting. If you are dealing with a major project that may have significant bottom line impact, your reward could be larger.
If you reward your successes and celebrate them you will find that your energy and attention will grow for your next project.
4. Be accountable to others
It is real easy to procrastinate or to have good intentions but never quite get the job done. Share your goals with others. Now you are in a position to have to work towards them. It is great to be accountable to yourself, but it is even more powerful with you are accountable to others.
Sometimes I share goals with my wife, children, or other professionals. I am a member of a mastermind group. We meet monthly and share our business plans and goals. This creates a high level of accountability. If you have a business coach, you may find accountability there that will help keep you focused and on track.
5. Focus on “why” not just “how”
Too often we just focus on the “what’s” and the “how’s.” When someone knows the true reason why something is being done, a whole new light is shed on the issue.
A job may seem boring or a waste of time. Once you understand why you are doing something, a new significance to it is born. A meaningless task becomes important when you find out it leads to someone’s success or well-being.
If you are in business and you are dealing with your activities, remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. If the “why” is not good enough to keep you focused, then maybe it is time for some new “why’s” in your life.
Don’t let your employees or yourself slowly slip away from the focus and excitement of your business. Stay engaged. Work on all five techniques, and you will be on the road to being accountable for your organizations success.