Mike Esterday

By following these steps you’ll discover that purpose and passion really do add up to greater performance

Change is a given. There are going to be more competitors. The workforce will evolve. The one constant you have is how well your people perform. It can also be the biggest competitive advantage you have.

In a recent podcast, I talked about how important it is for training to focus on the “soft stuff,” like attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and achievement drive. These factors have been shown to play a significant role in how successful someone ultimately is, but most training fails to adequately address them. One reason? It’s a lot easier to teach things like product features and sales techniques than it is to understand what drives someone and how to unleash their inner “turbo chargers.”

But if you can get inside their heads and help expand that achievement drive, it can give you the edge, not just today but over the long term.

So what can you do to make a difference right now? In part two of the podcast, Optimizing Performance for Strong Results, I outline a few actions leaders and talent development professionals can take to unleash new levels of performance in their employees and teams.

In particular, there are some specific steps we’ve seen that help combine purpose and passion to elevate performance, including:

1. Clarify goals.

We’ve been conducting global research over the past four years that invites people to score themselves on 18 success traits. In the 25,000 responses we’ve received to date, the lowest-ranked trait across all industries and geographies is consistently goal clarity. The fact is, most people don’t have a clear sense of what they’re doing and where they need to go in their jobs.

Here’s something you can do to help. Have employees apply a simple goal achievement system that includes such steps as: (1) defining objectives, (2) planning the strategy, (3) building beliefs by visualizing themselves achieving the goal, (4) developing strengths, which might involve shifting attitudes or developing new abilities and skills, and (5) managing progress—in other words, consistently reviewing where they are and then revising along the way as needed.

2. Create a supportive environment.

Success isn’t a solitary endeavor. We all need peers, mentors, coaches and others who can help us see what we might not see in ourselves and keep us accountable to our best intentions. In addition to coaching your employees, encourage them to associate with people who will support their goals.

Another great tip is to suggest that they seek out those who they feel are performing at a higher level than they are, and see what advice they have to share. Most people who are high performers are more than happy to share what they’ve learned and how they’ve gotten to where they are.

3. Adopt a mindset of seeing more in your people than they see in themselves.

We need employees to push themselves, but they also need to believe that they can. When you set those stretch goals, you have to show your employees that you have the faith in them that this is something they’re capable of achieving. Encourage their commitment to reaching their goals by recognizing their strengths and focusing on the rewards they’ll get when they achieve their goals, not just the obstacles they’ll face along the way.

And here’s an easy step that surprisingly few managers follow: Ask your employees what they can do and what they need to do to reach their desired goals. Most people know deep down what it is that they need to do.

By following these steps along with the other ideas we discussed in part one of the podcast, you’ll discover that purpose and passion really do add up to greater performance. That’s because when people clearly understand the purpose of the job, it releases passion, which then increases the activities that are necessary to improve performance.

And if you’re thinking about how you might boost your own performance? Take these steps to heart and consider how you might apply them to be more proactive this year in owning and expanding your own view of what’s possible.

Listen to the podcast: Optimizing Performance for Strong Results: Part 2

About the Author
Mike Esterday

Partner and CEO

Mike Esterday first discovered his talent for sales when he ranked number one out of 6,000 sales professionals in his...
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