For decades, Zig Ziglar motivated and inspired millions of people to be better at whatever they do for a living. Zig’s ideas about creating a sense of urgency are exemplified in his “Day Before Vacation” story. This technique can have a tremendous effect on your productivity, and the ability to motivate employees.
Think about your last day at work before you went on your most recent vacation. Didn’t you get as much done in that day as you would normally get done in two, three, or even four days? Have you ever considered how this could be used to motivate employees? Look at what Zig said you probably do on the day before your vacation:
Two nights before your vacation, you likely sat down with a piece of paper and listed all of the things that had to get finished the following day – your gottas (“I gotta do this and I gotta…”). Then, you committed to completing them all before you left the office the next day. These principles are essential to motivate employees.
On the morning of the day before your vacation, you arrived at the office on time -maybe even early. But you didn’t head for the coffee machine. No, you headed straight for the first gotta on your list (the sign of a motivated employee). You probably also did things out of order. You took your least favorite, most distasteful task on your list and got it out of the way quickly, instead of having it hanging overhead all day long (the way you normally would). With that tough one out of the way, you were feeling pretty good, and so you tore into the next task on your list, and then the next one after that. When someone came to chat about last night’s game, you politely but firmly informed that person that you were just too busy – and then you got back to business.
As you completed each of your gottas, you felt your energy rising, so that by halfway through the day you were buzzing with a sense of accomplishment that drove your enthusiasm level even higher. Your obviously energized and enthusiastic demeanor began to motivate employees and colleagues around you. They started to ramp up their efforts and became similarly enthusiastic. The atmosphere in the office got a little extra spark, and this lifted you even further. At the end of the day, you had all of your gottas completed. Let’s have a look at the principles behind this focus, and how you apply it to your employees’ performance and implement it in your employee development program.
First, Create a Vision
When your employee’s vision gets knocked offline by events around him, he’s like a $10 billion guided missile without a target. He can fly around in circles looking pretty impressive, but eventually he’s going to run out of fuel and crash and burn. Motivate employees in an organized way that will make them more productive. Help him envision his target clearly in his head and then paint it in front of him every day so that you are maximizing productivity.
Second, Formulate a Set of Goals
Having a great vision is useless unless your employee formulates clear, achievable goals to ensure that his vision becomes reality. He must plot a course to take him from where he is now to a target with checkpoints along the way that let him know when he has gone off course. Successful employee motivation is rooted in meaningful goal setting.
Third, Make a Commitment
This is the most common stumbling block; even if its victims are used to creating compelling visions and formulating achievable goals, they fail to commit. If he has ever made a New Year’s resolution he failed to complete, he knows what happens to plans that aren’t backed by commitment. If there’s no commitment, then his vision simply isn’t compelling enough. Otherwise, the commitment naturally would follow. He knows that his vision is right when it has the same sense of urgency. A real commitment will immediately motivate the employee to get him off the ground and in search of his target. Before he spends one more day out of focus, motivate the employee to stop and look carefully at his goals.