This last week I observed and interviewed several younger people who appear to ‘not be making it’. They are losing jobs because of greedy bosses, but mostly due to underperformance and are not putting in the same effort as a 30 or 40 something person. They no longer accumulate reserves for a rainy day as their parents did and live so close to their limits that the slightest hic-up will cause them to give up their independence and move back in with their parents.
Then I spoke to a man who runs a business compiling databases for several corporate clients with email campaigns, who informed me that the canvassing he does is most successful when done for personal loans. There is no surprise in that, what is surprising is the age group with the highest uptake – ages 20 to 28. The loans will buy the image they want, to give an appearance of being successful.
This got me thinking of the causes and the effects and today I want to show you (younger and older readers) how to make sense of making things right. It came up in Afrikaans: “kom ons maak alles REG” (in a direct English translation: let us make everything right). I am going with the Afrikaans abbreviation that gives the meaning for the day. R, is for Rewards; E, is for Effort; and G, is for Goals.
Everyone of us wants to be Rewarded with acknowledgments, applause, accolades but mostly with money. We often fail because we are not putting in the right amount of Effort, but mostly because we have no clearly defined Goals, nor do we follow the goals that others set for us.
To make things REG we must invert the acronym to become GER. We must start with a goal. The goal will help us to define the effort that is required to reap the desired rewards. The smaller the goal, the less the effort required and the smaller the reward will be. The popular belief that working smarter and not harder is a fallacy and has never proven true in my own life. Large goals require huge effort and brings great rewards, is the rule.
Let us look at goals first. Goals should not be mundane and must be mostly visionary, that gets your heart pumping and instil some fear in wondering whether it is achievable. They have to be bigger rather than smaller, yet small goals are good as they can be achieved quicker. The small goal achievements will give you courage and motivate you to attempt larger goals.
During the 1970’s an American University did a survey in which they found that only 15% of the students had clearly defined goals. They again surveyed the same students 30 years later and found that the 15% who had defined their goals were most successful and thus reaping the biggest rewards.
If you find it difficult to define your own goals you need not fear. There is great harm in having no goals but no harm in accepting other’s goals for yourself. This is particularly true in the workplace and is a good idea to go to your direct superior and asking them what their goal for you is. This will not only motivate you to greater effort but will get you noticed and if the goal is accomplished will get you greater rewards when increases and promotions are made. Do not go to the superior above your line controller as this may threaten her and can cause you to be side-lined and alienated by colleagues.
Once we have clearly defined goals we can work out what activities are required to achieve the goal. There will be several undesirable activities that must be done. The willingness to do and the effort required will ultimately determine the reward.
When I started in financial services I realised that I had to make 15 contacts per day by phone to obtain the number of meetings I required to achieve the desired number of sales and the reward I desired. This was the worst daily activity and I decided to deal with it first thing every morning. Each month I did this, the goals were achieved and each month I did not, the rewards were poor.
Rewards will follow automatically and the desired reward will be included in the goals that I set. We do not have to say much more about the rewards, except that the receipt of rewards are bound to motivate me to higher and bigger goals. Today I achieve my goals through other people’s efforts who are well rewarded for fulfilling the goals and targets I set for them.