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How do you as a leader set goals that maximize employee engagement?
How high should you set goals so your team is the most motivated to achieve them?
In the book Switch, How to Change Things when Change is Hard, written by Chip and Dan Heath, they tell the story of one of their friends who was running a full-service car wash. Their friend was complaining because he had just launched a new promotion and it wasn’t taking off. Each time a customer got a car wash they would stamp the customer’s card, and after eight washes, the ninth one was free.
Chip and Dan, who were writing the book, thought maybe their friend should try something a little different. Why not print a 10-blank card, but this time when you hand it to the customer, stamp it three times and give it to them? The illusion that is created is the customer is closer to getting the free car wash. I know your math skills are good enough to figure out you still have to pay for seven more washes to get the free one, but it turns out psychologically it helped people feel they were getting closer to the end destination.
You might be thinking, why wouldn’t he just print a 50-blank card and stamp it 43 times or a 20-bank blank card and stamp it 13 times? First of all, that’s a lot of stamping. But it turns out that if you make the goal too easy, it also doesn’t motivate.
Let’s review what the lesson is here:
If the goals for your team are too high, they’ll feel it’s unachievable and won’t try.
On the other hand, if the goals are too easy to obtain, they still won’t put in the effort.
As a leader, you should be setting the goals just right – not too difficult, and not too easy either.
When your team sees the goal, they should have a sense of, “We’ve got a shot at hitting it, but it’s not a slam dunk.” That’s where the sweet spot is, where motivation is maximized.
Setting goals that hit that sweet spot, will get the most engagement from your team.
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