We were seated in the Board room when she looked up from her notes and said, “Now that is an interesting perspective. You’ve got me thinking. So, planned short term wins really make a difference?”
“Yes, they do,” I replied. “When people know they are making progress on a daily basis and can measure it within a reasonable time frame, this creates forward momentum. When they achieve a planned short term win, e.g. hitting a number on a predetermined date, this deepens their commitment and creates confidence in the team and in the goal.”
“I have seen this with kids in school,” she continued. “When a students sets a stretch goal and can achieve a particular score or mastery along the way, they have more commitment to keep learning the new material.”
“Exactly. And employees need the same thing. The critics will say some thing can not be done, but those who are achieving consistent short term wins can point to the progress they are making. They can connect effort with desired outcomes.”
“So why are people in leadership positions not developing more planned short term wins every day?”
“I don’t think that it has occurred to them,” I responded. “In the eyes of many leaders, a goal is binary, namely done or not done. There is nothing but the two extremes. However exceptional leaders, particularly ones who are living and working in interesting times and working through an extended trough of chaos, recognize that working on a goal in the midst of difficult times often is an exercise in frustration and constant interruptions. But by setting smaller goals or short term wins, referencing the work of John Kotter, people realize that step by step they are moving forward, and making a difference. It takes time to create planned short term wins, but it is worth the effort.”
This, week map out the short term wins you want to achieve in 2018. Share them with others and then collectively start working on making them happen. Over time and with patience, you will emerge from the trough of chaos with a better team and a better organization.