Who is ready for 2016 to be over? Needless to say, this year has been….interesting.
Regardless if this year was your best, worst, or just in-between, one thing remains the same for 2017 as it did for the hopeful beginning of 2016- you want you and your team to get s### done.
That’s why we’ve composed a simple to use guide and guide sheet to help you and your team crush it in 2017.
More and more is being uncovered about what helps teams accomplish their goals and what doesn’t. Motivational scientists are finding that a simple theme pops up around teams that consistently accomplish their goals. Teams that are successful, understand that goals are fluid and awareness, accountability and details are keys to success.
How do they do it? Call it contingency-plan-thinking for the digital age. Call it “If-Then” thinking.
THE SCIENCE OF GOAL SETTING
Not only do motivational scientists find that if-then thinking teams can adapt on the fly, they also find that teams understand what is expected of them even as change occurs.
Although solving problems isn’t a perfectly binary process, motivational scientists have found that our brains are wired to break down most situations into “If x, then y” scenarios. Our brains do this at the sub-conscious level but your team can use the hard-wiring of our own brains to its advantage.
Think of this as your neural Gantt chart.
Peter Gollwitzer, a leading motivational Psychologist has led the research in if-then thinking, thinks of “if-then” goal setting as a way to create “instant group habits”.
Think of it this way.
Most of the time when you and your team sit down and set goals you do it a standard way. You talk through upcoming desired outcomes for a selected period and establish how you set out to accomplish them. You might think through ways to overcome problems and more than likely your goal sheet looks like this:
GOAL #1: Raise customer satisfaction scores by 25% by end of Q1
HOW: Reward employee’s for higher scores and blah blah blah blah blah.
While there’s nothing wrong with setting a goal and a way to complete it, this lacks one very crucial part of any successful goal: what if it doesn’t happen?
PUT IF-THEN TO WORK
Your team thinks and solves hundreds of problems each day. “If-then” thinking isn’t just for goal setting and you and your team already use this form of cognition all the time. Psychologists like Gollwitzer study it every day.
One of Gollwitzer’s key findings is that outcomes raise significantly if an “if-then” plan has been created before. Sometimes, outcomes go up by 300%.
What is it about “if-then” that works so well? In the case of physicians that Gollwitzer and his team studied, “if-then” cognition helps with awareness above all.
That’s right, the greatest benefit for your team is being aware of the goal in the first place AND having the ability to handle any adversity that stands in the way of goal completion.
One of the other benefits of an if-then goal plan is that you’ve created accountability for your team. In the guide below, step four allows for you to establish the exact date and time and person (or persons) responsible for accomplishing the goals and sub-goals.
Below, we’ve inserted a graphic that you can use to implement your own “if-then” goal strategy for 2017. To help you get started, I filled out one myself (with just one goal) to help you better understand just how effective this is.
IF-THEN GOAL SETTING GUIDE
STEP 1) Name the goal you want to attain. MY GOAL: Read one book a month.
STEP 2) Set up three sub-goals to help you and your team to help accomplish the main goal. (for the sake of space I’m listing one sub-goal). MY SUB-GOAL: Read up to 3 days per week.
STEP 3) Set up your action, and your who-where-when for your sub-goal. Your action and who-where-when for your sub-goals are meant to help drive sustainable and actionable results that maintain progress towards the accomplishment of your main goal. The action is specific to the sub-goal. Think of the “who-where-when” as a calendar reminder. MY SUB-GOAL ACTION AND WHO-WHERE-WHEN: 1)ACTION & WHO-WHERE-WHEN: Read Monday, Wednesday and Sunday 15 minutes before bed.
STEP 4) This is where you get to establish your “if-when” plan. Looking over your previous three steps in step four you now state your “if-then” statement. Your “if-then” statement will contain info from your previous three steps in one easy statement. MY IF-THEN STATEMENT: If it’s Monday, Wednesday or Sunday evening, then I will read for fifteen minutes prior to bed.