How to engage with your employees

When I started leading a team, I did an exercise with one of my groups. We made a “Goal Plan” (picture “vision board meets 5-year plan”).

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The purpose was to list out what we wanted to accomplish (sales, clients, size, products) big to small (what tech would we use, website traffic, roles). Over the next 1 year, 2 years, 3 years and 5+. I encouraged the team to dream, but dream BIG. In the end, I think we had offices in 6 countries across the world. I then put the poster on our wall. They thought I was ridiculous.

Eight months later, one of the members of my team came to my desk and said:

“You know that exercise we did on our goals?”

I replied, “Of course!”

“Well, at the time, I thought you were crazy because we were listing out things that seemed unattainable, and overly ambitious.”

I wasn’t sure where this was going, and he continued,

“Well, I was thinking about everything we’ve accomplished over the past eight months and noticed that we’ve already reached some of our goals we set out for year 3!”

At that moment, he, and the rest of the team bought into the exercise. And we re-did it again 12 months later – laughing at how crazy some of our previous year’s goals were. What he had said was all true. Although we hadn’t reached all of year one goals (yet), we had achieved some pretty “out there” ideas.

The point?

As a leader, when you know where you want to go, make sure you’re team knows as well. As a Leader, I want everyone to know what we are working towards, and also have a say! What is the business’ end game? I’ve found, when that is clearly communicated, everyone will start working on the same wheel. Through my coaching work, I’ve noticed that many of us seem to be afraid to dream. Not sure why. Maybe it’s the unknown, the fear of failure, or lack of faith in oneself.

I have been labelled as being over-ambitious, but I think what people fail to see, is this; If I don’t happen to reach my “over ambitious goals”, I won’t be devastated, curl up in a corner, and sulk. What I’m accomplishing in this exercise is setting out where I want to go, and by doing so, it opens my mind up to possibilities.

The most notable people on earth are notable because they weren’t afraid to dream. They had a vision, and they went for it. Summarised beautifully in this quote from Brian Tracy:

“The starting point of great success and achievement has always been the same. It is for you to dream big dreams. There is nothing more important, and nothing that works faster than for you to cast off your own limitations than for you to begin dreaming and fantasising about the wonderful things that you can become, have, and do.” – Brian Tracy.

I encourage every leader to do this exercise with their team. I encourage every individual to do this exercise for themselves. What do you have to lose?