Dr Bev Smallwood

Articles Library: Leadership

How to Help Others Believe That They Can Achieve

Motivation is a critical factor in employee performance. The article, How to Motivate Employees described the three essential variables that must be present if an individual is to be highly motivated.

  1. The employee must believe that high effort can lead to high performance;
  2. The person must perceive that personally satisfying outcomes will result from high performance; and,
  3. The individual must be convinced that the positive results outweigh the “costs” required to obtain them.

Many people have special difficulty with variable #1 – believing that they can perform. If you are in a position of influence with a person with this problem, you’ll learn four key helping strategies.

1. Assess the problem through observation and communication.

To assess any type of motivational problem, become an astute observer as well as a clear, open, and frequent communicator. When you become aware of a decline in an individual’s performance, promptly discuss the issue with the person. Give him or her feedback about the specific behaviors you’ve observed. This can yield valuable information about the nature of the problem and can allow for collaborative planning for corrective action. It is only through direct communication with the employee that you can discover the employee’s own beliefs and perceptions that are so critical for motivation.

2. Create success experiences to build employees’ confidence.

Sometimes an employee may have a generally poor self-image or may have experienced a recent failure that robs the person of confidence. This can result in either avoidance or half-hearted performance on an assigned task. To correct such a problem, “nothing succeeds like success.” Facilitate the experience of success.

3. Help the person set small, attainable goals.

Set small attainable goals with the individual and genuinely praise the person for these incremental improvements. This serves to challenge and encourage the person to keep trying. This will also help fight the tendency of some people to discount and negate their own accomplishments as “not counting, because they are not yet...”, a thought habit which is deadly for motivation.

4. Provide the training the employee needs to develop essential skills.

Consider whether the employee not only has, but also believes that he or she has the requisite skills to accomplish the task. When it comes to both technical and interpersonal skills necessary for success in a job, adequate training is essential.

However, there may be circumstances in which the person actually has the skills, but does not recognize them. For example, a manager may add to a person’s job description a responsibility for which that person has had no direct training or experience.

You can build the confidence of such an employee and minimize direct training time by first conducting a job analysis of the new assignment. You may be able to show the person that he or she has already performed the small skill components of the task in seemingly dissimilar situations. Encourage the person and build his or her belief that, with practice, this new task is well within reach.

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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