What Does Success Look Like?

Often when people start out on a new task, they just lower their head, grit their teeth, and drive into it.  Outcome?  Who cares…we just want to finish!  Of course, the inherent problem with that is the fact that you may wind up with results that aren’t quite effective as they should be.  That can leave everyone standing around later scratching their heads and wondering, “How did that happen?”

One of the things that I’m always talking about with my management staff is that they need to “Paint the Picture” with their staff, so they are communicating what success should look like when delegating responsibility or assigning someone a new task.  This is especially crucial if you are building a program that could take several months of hard work to complete.

Having a better mental illustration of how the end result may look like to each person, can get better buy-in and more quality work towards your goal.  For example, let’s say you were starting a cross training program where certain staff members are to be trained in a different, and unfamiliar, department.  The goal is to develop a well trained staff, where you have bench strength ready in case of emergency or when work picks up.

For the department manager, “Susie, I want you to think ahead three months from now.  Imagine how nice it will be to be able to take a day off, and not worry about your department falling behind. Having more trained staff members will give you the peace of mind that the work will be completed correctly, efficiently, and without stressing out your normal crew.”

For the potential trainee, “Fred, imagine how great it is going to be to learn a new skill.  We want you to spend afternoons in Susie’s department learning how to do that work.  You have a great attitude, and this is going to make you a more valuable employee.  In a few months, you’ll have a great knowledge base and we’ll be able to use you more.  This is your first step to moving up the ladder.”

For the trainer, “Bill, we think you have some great potential here.  For the next three months, we want you to show Fred how to do everything in your department.  By coaching him every afternoon, you’ll help us strengthen the department, and you will be able to get more accomplished each day.  Remember how crazy it gets in the summer?  Fred is going to help with that stress.  Not to mention, we want to see your managerial capabilities a little more, and how you handle yourself with a leadership task that involves other staff members.”

Painting the Picture is a good conversational tool to use when rolling out something new, solving a challenge, or brainstorming on some innovational topic.  What do you want to do?  How do you define success?  At the end of the journey where will the road take you?  Jot down some notes and tell a story when discussing something with your staff.  Don’t just drone on and on about the procedures and rules that you are trying to push out.

Tip: For even better buy-in involve others in describing what success should look like.  Ask them to describe their pain, and what should be done to resolve it.  Write down their ideas, brainstorm a little bit.  Keep focusing on the topic, and then write a Goal Statement.  People who are part of the process are more apt to dive into the project and ensure its final success, rather than just being told “this is what we are doing”.

Question: How do you define success?  Let’s share ideas!  Post a comment or write to me at matkinson4804@gmail.com

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