Focusing your employees on common goals

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The overarching principle behind organizational development is that all employees have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be harnessed and tapped into to enable the organization to grow. Managers are the organization's primary facilitators of knowledge and experience at their specific level. Growth can only be successfully accomplished when employees are focused upon a shared vision and common goals.

With the increasing intensity of global competition, organizations must move forward or be bypassed. With this in mind, organizations wishing to experience growth must ensure that their employees change. Individuals must continue to grow, develop and improve themselves as employees. Organizations are comprised of people; therefore if they are to progress, so must their people.

It is important for managers to understand that they play an important role in the development of the employees they direct. They must create an environment that fosters a learning atmosphere. When they do this, they satisfy the basic human need to continue learning. Most people don't want to stagnate, but seek opportunities to continue their personal development, whether on the job or with hobbies and other areas of interest. Research has shown that most individuals will seek new ways to learn whenever they have the opportunity.

As managers begin to focus their employees on common goals, there are a number of basic assumptions behind this task. Before managers begin to establish common objectives, they should take the time to review these assumptions with their employees. By doing so, they lay the groundwork of specific expectations that employees can use as a foundation for their goals. These assumptions include:

There Is a Better Way

Many organizations echo the sentiment, "We've been doing it this way for years-why change if it isn't broken?" If this feeling permeates the organization, it signals a level of stagnation in the face of constant change.

There is always a better way of doing things. Research has shown that every time employees review their goals and functions in a group setting they do a superior job of stating them, measuring them and achieving them. This synergy is a clear sign that the organizational unit is growing in terms of its individual members and as a working unit.

Working Capacity

A common complaint is that employees are overworked and have too many demands placed upon them. The truth is that no one is ever working at 100% capacity. Research indicates that even the best performers are only working at a fraction of their true capacity.

There are a number of factors at work here. Some individuals make a conscious choice not to provide the organization with the best of their abilities, for whatever reason. Additionally, many managers are placed in a position where they are applying new leadership principles to old bureaucratic methods with internal resistance present. This resistance often stands in the way of desired levels of effectiveness. In other cases, the speed of change and pace of demands are so overwhelming that managers find it difficult to stop and reorganize effectively.

Motivation

Employees are not strongly motivated to accomplish the goals and objectives established for them by others within the organization. Resistance to authority goes back to childhood, when many resisted their parents and teachers. Most employees feel that the goals established by others underutilize their skills. This resistance is very common in most, if not all, organizations.

However, employees will work hard to achieve goals they set for themselves. They feel empowered and assume ownership of their ideas and concepts. When employees assume ownership, they are motivated to succeed, if only because they have been given an opportunity and do not want to fail. They feel bureaucratic constraints are lifted and they are enthusiastic and challenged by the opportunities presented to them.

Sense of Accomplishment

Employees are happier when they are given the opportunity to accomplish more. Many bridle under older, more bureaucratic rules and procedures that limit their personal ability to perform, grow and develop. Once these constraints are removed, employees have the opportunity to do more than they were allowed in the past. They develop a sense of accomplishment that brings most people pleasure and a feeling of importance.

Most individuals have a need to accomplish something worthwhile in their lives, and managers can use this psychological need to their advantage. If managers are successful in this goal, they will see their employees more interested and enthusiastic than before. The challenge lies in increasing the frequency of these opportunities.

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from Problem Solving: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series and click here to learn more.


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