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Keep Motivation Blooming All Year

Keep Motivation Blooming All Year

Free Resource

By Springtime, new year’s resolutions tend to be a distant memory and personal and professional goals need revisiting before they melt away with the rest of our best intentions. Keep motivation blooming all year long with these three simple steps (no green thumb required).

Fertilize to boost productivity

Ongoing recognition, constructive feedback, and mentoring help nurture peak performance at every job level.

Keep one-on-ones sacred: When managers or employees stop prioritizing dedicated time to connect, accountability on both sides starts to slip. Ownership primarily lies with managers to keep an eye out for barriers to meaningful dialogue about progress toward goals. Managers can ask themselves the following questions to determine whether there is room to improve the quality of their one-on-ones:

Are goals kept visible as a regular one-on-one agenda item or are they out of sight and out of mind? Do one-on-ones involve a dynamic two-way conversation about challenges and successes or is one person doing all the talking, problem-solving, and idea generation? Are both parties fully engaged or are they distracted by phone or computer screens?

Provide ongoing feedback & mentoring: Whether in person or via phone/video chat, spending time with employees outside of formal meetings and having a way to witness their day-to-day work provides a basis for real-time feedback, role playing, and mentoring. For managers with especially large teams or teams in different geographic locations, delegating some of the day-to-day feedback and mentoring to local senior team members and/or managers can provide a way to bridge the gap and ensure that employees are receiving the support they need to follow through on both business and personal development goals.

Celebrate incremental wins: Many organizations provide awards and other special recognition only on an annual basis. However the recency effect often results in awarding behaviors occurring only in the most recent weeks or months leading up to reviews, while overlooking other significant milestones earlier in the year. Finding ways to acknowledge and celebrate incremental wins in one-on-ones and team gatherings (such as weekly team meetings or quarterly sales calls) provides incentives along the path toward larger goals rather than focusing only on the final destination. Enlisting peer feedback is a powerful way to do this as well, such as peer-to-peer bonuses or non-monetary “shout outs” in team meetings.

Prune to promote healthy development

Goals set in January may not be relevant from quarter to quarter so regular pruning helps ensure that people are free of distractions and can focus on the goals that matter most.

Re-evaluate goals frequently: Assessing and refining goals on a monthly or quarterly basis helps ensure that employees have their priorities straight as business conditions shift. This can be done through proactive communication in one-on-ones and team meetings about progress toward goals, and by soliciting feedback from employees to glean which efforts feel most and least productive to them. Company leaders own the decision making around which priorities matter and are responsible for keeping them in sharp focus.

Solve for employee pain points: Open conversation about goals and a willingness to refine or remove tasks or projects that are eating up a disproportionate share of employee time and energy can help reduce burnout and boost morale. The best goal-setting in the world is only as good as the infrastructure which makes doing the work possible. Resolving issues like buggy CRM tools, unnecessary bureaucracy, or other gear-grinders can be incorporated in the business goals of company leadership with bottoms-up input from staff.

Rotate for better harvests

Just as soil benefits from changing crops, organizations flourish when fresh ideas are embraced.

Avoid stagnation: Meaningfully update goals after each review cycle to ensure the bar is raising and focus is broadening for both business and developmental goals. It should be a red flag if goals are not evolving from period to period in terms of scope and substance. For example, an employee with a personal development goal tied to public speaking may focus in the first quarter on simply presenting a regular segment at the weekly team meeting, but by the next quarter she should be further developing leadership presence by taking a public speaking class or presenting to a larger or more senior audience, for example.

Promote internal mobility: Offer opportunities for individuals to move around within the organization on a temporary or permanent basis. Just as ongoing rewards and recognition help stoke motivation throughout the year, offering employees the chance to spend time working on special task forces or swap roles temporarily with members of other teams can go a long way to keeping people stimulated and engaged. Particularly in organizations where paths to promotion can take a long time or where monetary recognition is less available, internal mobility on even a short term basis through job swaps can boost retention and employee satisfaction and provide fresh eyes and cross-pollination between teams.

Goal setting is a process, not a destination. Tailoring goals to the shifting business climate, internal organizational conditions, and employee skills and interests provides the best formula for peak performance throughout the year.

Phoebe Vaughan is a certified coach and blogs and consults on a range of topics including performance management and developing healthy cultures within organizations. Learn more at