Why the Top Agents Leverage Success Metrics in a Shifting Market

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the shifting market, and you’ve likely been hearing steps and strategies to help you be prepared for what may come in your local market. Whether it just shifts slightly to a more balanced, normalized market, or there’s a noticeable lull in home sales… the name of the game is being fully prepared at any time with a solid business model, that’s evergreen and “shockproof,” so that your profitability doesn’t suffer.

 

One tactic that will help solidify your profitability (no matter the market), is clearly tracking and measuring success metrics.

 

We’re still in Q1, the busy spring season is rapidly approaching so it’s the perfect time to take a step back and make sure you’re being diligent about some of the boring stuff (like these metrics and numbers), so you can ultimately enjoy the good stuff, like more closings and a higher transaction volume at the end of the year.

Response Time

Did you know that the industry average response time for a real estate lead is over 15 hours? Yikes.

 

We all know how to the consumer shopping experience happens these days: you’re on the web, you’re searching for a property and you’re focused on that task for 20, maybe 30 minutes tops. But what are you up to 10, 15 hours later? You’ve moved on! You’re not interested in chatting. Or, even worse, you’ve already heard from a competitor.

 

Speed-to-lead, that age-old adage that you’re sick of hearing? It exists for a reason.

 

So, ask yourself. Are you measuring your own response time and are you actively trying to improve it? These are the things that are going to set apart the top-tier agents during a market shift when the flow of leads to your pipeline might not be quite as healthy.

 

Take a look at your current process for engaging leads. Do you have a technology system in place, like a CRM, that notifies you the second a lead registers on your site? And if so, Is it mobile so that wherever you are you can take a minute to reach out? Maybe you have an ISA, an assistant or a virtual assistant that’s prospecting for you and engaging those new leads — well their response time is your response time! So make sure you have a system in place to track how quickly someone is getting in front of those leads.

 

So once you’ve got an idea of what your average response time is, work on improving it! Try to get it under 5 minutes, and if you’re having trouble doing that, you might need to consider hiring an assistant or an ISA that can help you prospect and stay on top of new leas. Or perhaps you’re generating too many leads and you don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with them. In that case, consider scaling back so you can work with a smaller pool that will actually covert and close a deal with you. Because a large pool of leads that don’t convert really just isn’t smart business.

Here are a few questions you can answer to determine how many leads you really need

How many leads do you need to get an appointment
How many appointments does it take for you to close a deal?
What is your conversion rate?
How big is your current database?
How much time are you willing to spend prospecting?

Follow-up & Lead Nurture

Obviously, response time is just one piece of the puzzle – and the real leg work comes with follow up and effective lead nurturing. Now, more than ever, this is super important Today’s real estate industry is all about the consumer experience. You hear the words “red-carpet,” or “white-glove experience” thrown around, and that’s because we live in a digital time now where everything is instant and readily available.
 

You can have Whole Foods groceries delivered to your house within 2 hours, at the click of a button!

 

So to keep up with consumer demand you have to be available and you have to be communicative. You also have to be one step ahead of them, anticipating their needs, not just reacting to what they’re asking for.

 

This is why you need to be smart and meticulous with follow-up & nurture plans.

 

1. Organize Your Database.

It’s impossible to measure if your follow-up needs work when you don’t have a clear process in place. If you’re not using a CRM, whatever strategy for you have for organizing your leads and pushing them through the funnel – stay on top of it. (Also, consider investing in technology to automate those tasks and allow yourself to be more proactive.)

For everyone else that is using a CRM, spend the time necessary to get your lead flow organized. Clean up your categories and tags so that your database is organized into straightforward segments like:

Want to buy or sell now
They’re looking, but not ready to act
Searching a few months out
Searching a few years out

All of these leads require different follow-up approaches and nurture plans, so it’s important that they’re clearly segmented!
 

2. Tailor Your Marketing Campaigns

First, focus on your follow-up plan for your hot leads. These are the critical, “act now” leads that are the most likely to engage. Maybe you use the 10-days-of-pain model. Whatever combination of texts, calls, emails you use, and however long your process is – make sure this is clearly defined within your business so that you can look through a call log and text record and say – “Did I follow this action plan step by step”? What went wrong, what went right?

 

The marketing campaigns and nurture plans come into play for the rest of your leads that need nurturing. That group that you’ve labeled “looking but not quite ready to act?” Those leads should be getting emails with fresh listings and they should be getting periodic touches to gauge where they are in the process and whether or not they’re ready to start setting up appointments.

 

Smart Prospecting

 

3. Track and Measure

This is easy in BoomTown. Calls, emails, transactions, team performance: everything is tracked and logged in the system for immediate reference and simple tracking. But no matter the system, everything should be tracked to measure success, and whether or not it is working for the specific category. Maybe a certain category would respond to texting over email, or video over straight text? You’ll never know unless you A/B test and track your progress.
 

 

Once all the main pieces of your marketing plan are in place, determine the goal behind your campaign. What actions do you want your audience to engage in? What type of influence or advocacy are you looking to draw back from them? For example, by sharing quality educational content, you showcase your authenticity and insights to build trust and loyalty with your audience. The CRM will track open rates, responses, and log each interaction automatically. This makes it easy to see what emails are working, and where you might want to improve.
 
If your data shows one specific email isn’t helping move leads through the funnel, or recipients are increasingly unsubscribing and/or reporting spam, it’s time to adjust your messaging schedule. Keep in mind that your prospects may be receiving emails from more than one agent, so keep content fresh and original. Look at ineffective emails as a test, not a failure. You’ll no longer be wasting time on a message that isn’t resonating with your prospects and you can focus on different subject matters that drive results. With time, you will discover what is successfully reaching different segments of your email lists.

 

Lead Conversion & Close Rates

Now it’s time for a little bit of math! (Don’t panic, we’ll keep it simple.)

First, make sure you have these numbers. (Monthly)

Marketing Expenses (i.e. advertising costs, etc.)
# of leads generated
# of leads who became a client-prospect

Take the (# of leads generated) and divide by the (# of client-prospects). So, if you generated 1000 leads in January and 50 of them became clients, here’s what the equation would look like:
 

50 ÷ 1000 = 0.05 (or 5%)

(# of clients) ÷ (# of leads generated)

 

From here you can use your conversion rate to calculate other useful numbers that will help you with your goal-setting and business plan.
 

Real Estate Conversion Rate

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3 Powerful Techniques That Will Help You Really Get Things Done

Setting goals and having the ideas to achieve more success in life is easy. Whether it is to lose weight, to earn more, to build a successful blog, or to get rid of a bad habit, most people fail to stick to their plans after a few weeks. And some give up after a few short days.

People just don’t follow through. They fall back into their old behaviors and they procrastinate when they are supposed to get things done. So what can you do to stick to your goals and follow your plans? What can you do to really get the things that you want to be done, done?

Here are 3 powerful techniques you can apply:

1. Schedule and Block Your Time

First, schedule and block your time for the project or task that you want to get done. For example, if you want to write a 2,000-word article, what you need to do then is to schedule the writing. You want to make sure that it becomes your priority so that it will definitely happen.

Time blocking is one of the most powerful techniques anyone can leverage to get things done. If you have just bought a book but you find that you don’t have time to read it, just schedule the time.

For instance, use this Saturday morning to read the book. You can block 9 AM to 12 PM on your calendar, and use these 3 hours block to read the book. When you do so, you are giving clear instructions to your mind when and what you should do. As what Tony Robbins said, “Clarity is power”. When you know exactly what you need to do and specifically when to do the task, your chances of doing it will be much higher.

More importantly, when you block your time, you are literally telling the world that you will be unavailable for other things during that period. You have scheduled your priority and other things have to wait. This is why time blocking is such a powerful technique that you can apply to make sure you get more things done.

“The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey

2. Change Your Environment

Next, change your environment. If time blocking is not enough, change your environment as well. We often underestimate how the environment can affect our lives. In fact, the environment you’re in plays a vital role in shaping your life. A productive and positive environment favors good habits and positive behaviors.

If your environment is noisy and you can’t focus, and you want to write an article in that surrounding, you set yourself up to fail. You must learn to use your environment to support you rather than against you. Create a favorable environment so that you are more inclined to take action rather than procrastinating.

Take the example from above, if you want to read a book, but your environment is noisy and distracting, just change your location. Grab your book and read it in a nearby coffee house while enjoying your favorite hot mocha. The key is that you must design or change your environment so that it favors you.

If you want to make it a habit to drink more water, fill your water bottle and place it on your work desk. Whenever you see it, you will remember to drink more water. If you want to watch less TV, keep the remote control away or take out the batteries. This way, you create the inconvenience and it makes you less likely to watch TV.

Thus, redesign a work environment that helps you get things done. Remember, you are a product of your environment. So if you want to change your life, change your environment.

3. Build Up the Commitment

So now that you have blocked out 3 hours this Saturday from 9 AM to 12 PM to read a book that you have just bought at a nearby café. What if you still fail to follow through? Well, here’s the third technique you can apply – increase your commitment.

What you want to do here is to increase the stake and make yourself more committed to taking action. For instance, you can make a bet with a friend that you will read 100 pages of the book. And if you don’t, you will give him or her $50.

How’s that for increasing your commitment? Of course, there are many ways how you can put yourself on the line. You can also invite a friend to read together in the café so that he can become your accountability partner and make sure you show up and read.

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes…but no plans.” – Peter F. Drucker

When you make a public commitment, you put yourself on the line and your reputation is at stake. Hence, you become more committed to the action. According to Dr. Gail Matthews from the Dominican University of California, people who write down their goals, make action commitments, and share their progress with someone else have a much higher chance of actually achieving their goals.

Hence, to increase your commitment toward your goals, you can:

Write them downCreate specific action plans, andMake yourself accountable by sharing your progress with someone else.

When your level of commitment is high, you will do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals.

These are the 3 techniques that you can implement to help you get things done. Remember, schedule your actions so that they will definitely happen. Change your environment so that you set yourself up to win. And create the commitment so that you will hold yourself accountable and accomplish the task.

Read more: addicted2success.com

Lessons from the Navy Seals on Getting Teams to Hit Goals

Plenty of us already struggle with hitting our own goals. Getting a team to hit their goals … that’s a whole other challenge. There are plenty of strategies and ideas to steal from, but why not learn from one of the most elite team organizations in the country: the Navy Seals.

The selection process, alone, weeds out 94% of applicants. They’re considered to be one of the deadliest forces across the planet. And they’re famously known for the raid on Osama Bin Laden and the rescue of Captain Phillips from Somali Pirates.

So, how does a team of Navy Seals execute near-perfect missions? They reinforce mental toughness with goal setting practices.

Getting a real estate team to hit their goals is 80% mental. Literally. It’s estimated we say 300 to 1000 words to ourselves per minute. Navy Seals will tell you those words need to be positive. Otherwise, the team will be sabotaging themselves. Let’s go over a few methods they use to build that positivity (and confidence).

 

How to Set Goals that Get the Team Moving

Set goals in extremely small chunks. You’re not trying jump across the entire stairway at one time. Take it in small steps.
Establish norms for how the group will operate and work toward the goals.
Make sure everyone has an equal say among the group during your goal progress.
Clarity is key – both among the goals and how the team works together (i.e. role responsibilities). Don’t be afraid to discuss logistics.

A lot of us have heard about “big hairy audacious goals,” otherwise known as BHAGs. The premise is to set something ambitious, almost like a vision goal of where you want to be by the end of the year (or any time period).

The challenge with audacious goals is that they’re very high-level. They don’t get into the weeds on how you will reach those goals. And when they’re so big, it can seem like you’ve made little progress and just give up on them.

It’s easier to break them into smaller chunks. Plus, there’s an added benefit. When you achieve those smaller benchmark goals, you feel more motivated. You feel the progress and it keeps you going. Navy Seals sometimes have goals just to make it to lunch. Little achievements can turn around a team’s mood very easily.

Is There a Team Structure that Works Best?

There are several team models that work well and typically see better productivity results. They vary from having central leadership to being a collection of equal-minded people. The key was the culture. Was everyone comfortable and motivated to participate as a team? Google did a whole study detailing how their successful teams operated.

 

Practice Visualization. Do Mental Rehearsal.

Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) is famously known for his time playing basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers. What’s not so known were his struggles to make free point shots. He often missed them … until his coach gave him a new strategy: Visualization. They based it off a Buddhist meditation practice.

If you visualize making the shot, you would be more likely to actually make it. Shaq tried it out and saw his score percentage go up. The Navy Seals use the same practice. They visualize themselves succeeding and going “through the motions.” It’s like practicing, but done mentally.

Having your team visualize and discuss what obstacles you might come across, can ready everyone for the journey (and how to deal with it). Talk through what benchmarks you want to hit. Imagine what tasks you’ll be doing and imagine any pitfalls you need to prepare for.

 

Roleplay and Do Simulations

After visualizing some of the obstacles you might face, you should have the team practice overcoming them – in real life. The Navy Seals work under the rule: “Train like you fight.” To prepare for the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound, they built a life-size replica and practiced the mission.

For you, it might be having the team practice objection handling or how to make cold calls. Practice how to conquer any problem you might face.

 

Extra Resources

If you want to read more about hitting goals and how to improve sales, I’d recommend reading Dan Pink’s books: Drive and To Sell is Human. They feature studies and stories demonstrating how to take a sales operation to the next level (both from an individual perspective and team perspective).

 

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Notes on Keller Williams 1-3-5 Goal Setting Template

We’d all like to close $100 million in sales. Sure, you could ask how others do their lead generation. Or how they handle their lead follow-up. But that always leaves a lingering question: “Will I get the same results?”

Managing our time is hard enough, right? Now we have to figure out which tasks will get us to $100 million in real estate sales. What everyone battles is staying focused — focusing on the tasks that will create the right results. But easier said than done.

This is why I want to explore Keller Williams’ 1-3-5 template for goal setting. It’s not new or *flashy,* but it gets you on the right track. However, this won’t be a Keller Williams praise-fest either. I’m going to provide a few additional tips to managing your time (without sounding like your Mom, if I can) and show which adjustments I might make on the template.

 

The 1-3-5 Rule

For the agents (and readers) not associated with Keller Williams Realty, I’m sure you’re wondering how successful this rule has been. Well, I can say it’s helped propel Keller Williams teams forward, in terms of sales and volume … dramatically. Ben Kinney (a BoomTown client) is one mega agent who uses the 1-3-5 rule. Today, he’s among the Real Trends Top 25 Teams (by sides) nationwide.

So, how do people like Ben Kinney start the 1-3-5 rule? They ask themselves a question: “How much money do I want to make?” This usually translates into a number of closings they have to accomplish. For you, the question can be any aspiration. Net income, transactions, better work-life balance — whichever. Choose 1 goal.

Now, you brainstorm 3 strategies to achieve your 1 goal. If you need a refresher on real estate strategy, check out this blog post. Good strategy explains how you, faced with competition (or obstacles), will achieve superior performance.

Next, build 5 tactics to implement your 3 strategies. If your strategy is to acquire more listings, a tactic could be cold calling leads, contacting FSBOs, or door knocking. Define which actions are needed to carry out the strategy. Use your strategy as a guiding principle to bring your goal closer.

WORKSHEET: Download the 1-3-5 goal setting template for yourself.

 

Preview:

135 Keller Williams Goal Setting Template

 

Managing Your Time to Reach Goals

The 1-3-5 rule is designed to aim your activities, so your time is well spent in the field. But having a goal setting template won’t do any good if you’re not holding yourself accountable. It’s like New Year’s resolutions. We all say a resolution, but only a fraction of us actually carry them out (or make it through the whole year). To reach your goals, you need a few things:

 

Link short-term realities to long-term goals.
A lot of people set ambitious goals, and often those goals will take months to accomplish. Maintaining your quest (to that goal) gets hard when it’s so far out and you don’t see results. Identify short-term wins to keep you motivated for the long game. If you’re looking to close $100 million in sales, what are some monthly benchmarks.
Setting a goal is both addition and subtraction.
Any goal, any strategy has you doing very specific tasks. Sometimes these tasks add on to other responsibilities you already have. Before you start your journey, make sure to cut out unnecessary tasks (that don’t contribute to your goal). This frees up your time to actually achieve your 3 strategies and 5 tactics.
Have a system of accountability.
We all need a drill sergeant to get our ass moving. For some of us, we can do it ourselves. But for others, if you need a little push, set up a system of accountability. This can range from reminders on your calendar to time blocking. You can also grab a buddy (or workmate) to check on your achievements. This will make sure you can’t shy away from your goal, or create any excuses.
Be ready to get your boots dirty.
Hitting a goal means trekking through the battlefield, clawing your way through obstacles, and getting to the finish line. It’s a ground war, not an air war. Not every day will be pretty, and some days you might even fall behind. But keep working at it. Don’t let failure become a habit. Make your habit success.

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Stephen Cooley, who is among the top 10 Keller Williams teams worldwide. What he tells his real estate agents is “time block, time block, time block.” Often his sales staff can get caught in the stream of handling clients, but they often forget to handle their leads. There needs to be an equal balance. The same goes for goals.

Stephen also loves to remark on how real estate is vastly different than it was 20 years ago. Back then, an agent would have to spend their Saturdays showing homebuyers 20-30 different properties. Today, those same homebuyers can do that themselves on the internet, through real estate websites. Now, agents have extra time that they didn’t have 20 years ago. “How do you spend that time? I hope it’s not on Facebook, socializing,” says Stephen.

 

Tips on Setting Goals for Teams

If you run an office or manage a team, there are a few things to keep in mind when setting goals with the 1-3-5 template.

When people believe a leader, they follow. In a recent interview with former NHL player (turned mining executive), Brent Gilchrist highlighted a key distinction between top hockey teams. The captain has to lead by example – yes – but they also have to be a great teammate. In the NHL, a lot of teams missed this point.  Essentially, they have to be a great team player. Just because you lead, doesn’t mean you’re out of the trenches with everyone else. You’re in it together.
Great teams play for each other; they play for their team. Sure, running a business is about generating profit. But if you’re not focused on the agents and support staff who help run your business, you won’t retain them for long. And they certainly won’t be motivated to reach the goals you set. Focus on them. Go to bat for them. Go to war if you have to.
To keep the team motivated, set small goals, plan out small wins, and visualize their progress. Keep tabs on the team and have regular one-on-one meetings with them. Don’t be shy to ask them in their reviews: Are these actions contributing to our goals successfully? And make sure to celebrate success. Hitting benchmarks is a time to reward the team, so they stay pumped and motivated.

See how the Navy Seals set goals for their teams and achieve the highest caliber of their profession. Click Here to Read >>

 

My Notes on the 1-3-5 Rule

To me, the 1-3-5 rule is a great template for setting an action plan, oriented to reach a goal. But like any other “plan,” it still requires work. Building a habit — forcing yourself to work on the strategies and tactics everyday — is a must.

But here’s where people get hung up. The change and randomness to life throws them off-balance. Stuff happens. Things fall apart. Procrastination sets in. Have you ever wondered why people wait till New Year’s to set a resolution? Why wait? You can start anytime.

To battle procrastination, focus on your future-self. If you procrastinate today, how does it impact you tomorrow? If you delay the “negative,” they will only pile up until it becomes a bigger challenge.

Dealing with change and the random events that befall us often make us afraid. We say people don’t like change, but why? There is the discomfort of being confused or being stressed from the work change might create. But I would argue there’s another feeling — a feeling of failure and weakness.

When change happens, it often starts because something previously wasn’t working. People who were a part of those “previous things” defend them because they feel it’s a reflection of them. They feel they failed, that they were weak. But this is a fallacy.

Failure is fine. In fact, it’s good. If you’re not failing, it means you’re not trying something new. It’s not challenging. And without challenge, you don’t see new success. The key is to learn from it and adjust your plans.

If the strategies to your goal aren’t working out, feel free to change them. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you’re being cognizant of how to actually see success. People get so hung up on their goal. “It has to be met! It’s set in stone!” No, it doesn’t. It just needs tweaking/adjusting. The key is setting periods for analysis — to gauge if everything is on track and working.

Not everything we do is a home-run. Sometimes there are a lot of iterations to success.

BoomTown Real Estate Goals

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7 To-Dos to Check Off Before 2019

Goal setting season is upon us. Resolutions are looming and the success of your business next year can depend largely on how you wrap up the next few months. It’s a heavy task with all the festivities and subsequent lack of focus, but if you prioritize a few key things, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Lead Generation Real Estate Plan

 

Plan your gifts and donations

‘Tis the season! Make your own nice list and include the people who have been important to your business. Consider clients, vendors, and co-workers and plan to give a token of your appreciation for their help and loyalty this year. It’s also a wonderful time to choose a local charity and make a company donation. It’s a great thing to do for obvious reasons, but it also doesn’t hurt to get a little brand recognition and a tax reduction!

 

Real Estate Lead Generation

Audit your tech tools

Technology is mission critical to the success of your business. Do you have everything you need to hit the ground running in 2019? Perhaps there was something you could have benefited from this year? Make sure you’re using vendors that are true business partners. Make sure they’re on the leading edge of innovation, putting you ahead of the competition and helping you deliver unprecedented service to your clients.

 

Lead Generation Plan

Evaluate your digital persona

As an agent, you yourself are a brand. Make sure your personal brand is reflecting your values and the type of service you can offer prospective clients. Now is a great time to spruce up your social media profiles, update your head shot, and skim through all the content to make sure everything is in line with your brand goals.

Not sure what to share? Check out our tips in this video:

 

Real Estate Lead Generation

Prioritize your education

Did you put a priority on professional development this year? If so, great! Keep doing what worked and re-evaluate things that weren’t that beneficial. If not, make that a focus for 2019. It’s amazing what inspiration the right conference or coach can bring to your business. Research some opportunities that would be a great fit for your 2019 goals, and make some plans!

 

Real Estate Lead Generation

Assess your 2018 business plan

Too many people create their goals for the new year without taking a long hard look at the past year. Review your critical metrics from 2018. Regardless of if you hit your goals in certain areas or not, what do the numbers say about your performance and priorities? Use this information as a starting point for sales forecasting and building a very realistic and actionable plan for next year.

 

Build that 2019 business plan

Now that you have a real understanding of last year’s performance, it’s time to put a plan together. Make sure you cover all aspects of your business: marketing campaigns, potential hires, specific sales metrics, technology investments and events. Associate SMART goals with each aspect and build out timelines to keep yourself accountable.

 

 

Enjoy your holiday time

The next two months provide built-in time to celebrate with those you love. Take advantage! Focus on your to-dos before the whirlwind begins and soak in your quality time with family and friends. Disconnect from your business a bit, enjoy yourself, and mentally prepare yourself to hit the ground running in January.

 

BoomTown Real Estate Goals

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Take Charge of Your Business: Set SMART Goals

Setting clear goals for your company is a key business performance strategy. They should serve as the foundation of your original business plan and the compass for your organization as it moves forward. The most effective goals create clarity of purpose and outline objectives to strive for. To set the right goals for your company, use SMART, a powerful mnemonic for Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, and Time-bound.

1. Specific

To be practical, business goals must be clearly defined. The easiest way to make them specific is by answering the basics of “how”, “who”, “what”, “when”, “where” and “why”.

2. Measurable

Making a business goal measurable means including a specific number, whether it’s a dollar amount, a percentage, or another form of measurement, on what you hope to accomplish. Use questions like “how much?” or “how many?” to set a measurable business goal. Developing metrics around a goal helps you understand your progress and communicate your performance.

3. Agreed Upon

To execute your overall business performance strategy, many people in your organization will be required to pull in the same direction. That’s why it’s important for priorities to be agreed upon beforehand. Getting team members to understand and work toward your goals helps create strategic clarity.

4. Realistic

Business goals must be attainable in terms of your abilities and financial situation. While “increase profits by 300 percent in two months” is a wonderful aspiration, if it is not realistic it will not be a helpful goal. Likewise, make sure business goals that you’re setting fit your budget. If you can’t dedicate the requisite resources to the goal, you may want to reconsider if it is the right one.

5. Time-bound

Business goals must be tied to a defined schedule. A goal isn’t effective if there is no “end date” by which it must be achieved. Set a date for when each milestone can be realistically achieved, or a timeframe during which you want to actively pursue a goal.

Long-term vs. Short-term Goals

Long-term goals should reflect your overall business performance strategy and set the direction your company should move. Keep in mind that too many long-term goals can cause a lack of focus, so keep them limited. Additionally, break down long-term goals into a series of shorter-term goals to provide clearer direction, motivate employee performance, and gauge whether progress is on track.

Short-term goals should be clear and specific so that all employees clearly understand objectives and priorities and everyone is on the same page. Short-term goals should also help harness employee enthusiasm and energy by encouraging timely deadlines and key milestones to stay on track toward long-term goals. Both long-term and short-term goals should be easy to understand and communicate to employees.

Evaluating goals

No matter how SMART your business goals are, they are useless if their success isn’t being evaluated. Revisit your goals regularly and assess objectives are being met in the time frame outlined. Additionally, look to see if your goal setting is motivating the appropriate employee responses and behaviors, the right types of initiatives and activities, and most importantly, moving the company toward your vision for the future.

Read more: insperity.com

Moving from annual performance reviews to continuous performance development

Annual performance reviews are dying a slow death in businesses across the country. The annual review of old is time-consuming and often lacking in relevant performance measurements.

But what should take the place of this dreaded process? Many companies are turning to continuous performance development, also known as continuous improvement processes, to build morale and improve productivity.

The transition isn’t without challenges, however. The concept of continuous improvement can feel uncomfortable to managers reared on a rank-and-yank system, or those who are simply too overloaded to provide regular coaching to their team.

Before you ditch your existing annual review model, you’ll need to get clarity on things like:

How performance and compensation will correlate, especially if you’re not evaluating employees on some scale
How you’ll measure improvement in underperforming employees, or motivate individuals to climb the career ladder and learn new skills

Transitioning to a continuous improvement model for employee performance and development is a process, not a one-and-done implementation. The main thing you must realize is that there’s no magic fix as you move from once-a-year reviews to continuous improvement.

First things first

Before making the change to continuous performance management, you’ll first need to determine what worked and what didn’t work about your annual review process. You may use a Six Sigma process, focus groups, scale diagrams or plain, old-fashioned brainstorming to determine this.

It’s key to involve employees from all levels of the company to ensure you get a complete picture of what is motivational and effective – and what’s not. You may also need to hire an outside consultant to organize and facilitate these discussions, or guide you in the transition.

Some questions you can expect to address are:

If we don’t rate employees on a scale (e.g., 1-5) how will raises and bonuses be calculated?
How will we measure and track information related to an employee’s performance, to judge both promotions and terminations?
How do we build a system that’s relevant to all positions company-wide?
What’s realistic and achievable for managers and employees alike?
Will new technology be required, and what will it cost?

Once you identify the barriers to success in your old system, you can build a new structure that offers a better return on the significant investment of time and resources any performance analysis requires.

Build in flexibility

Old-style annual reviews that focus only on individual performance often fail to accommodate the realities of today’s workforce. Rather than operate in silos or on an assembly line where one task is independent of another, employees now tend to work on a fluid mix of teams and projects throughout the year.

So, how do you capture the quality and value of an employee’s work under such changeable circumstances? Your new continuous improvement model should acknowledge that an employee’s goals may change throughout the year, as they are assigned new priorities.

Perhaps the most important point to creating a performance improvement process is that it should be relevant to every single employee.

For instance, say your company decides everyone should be focused on and judged by their contributions to”innovation.” Is it realistic to expect a payroll clerk to contribute to innovation?

Whether you use your existing review forms and system or adopt new ones, you’ll need to let both managers and employees track conversations, make notes on coaching sessions, ask questions of one another, and give or request feedback.

The frequency of these notes and interactions may be prescribed, such as once a week, twice a month, after the close of a project, etc. The key factor is that the employee gets feedback on their performance regularly, rather than once a year.

Invest in manager training

If you decide to move your company from annual reviews to continuous performance improvement, expect to invest in additional training and development for your people managers.

Particularly if you have micromanagers or leaders used to relying on fear to motivate their team, you’ll need to help these supervisors learn a more positive management style.

Your managers may need coaching tips, conversation starters, tips for realistic goal-setting and guidance on ways to handle performance issues that coach toward improvement.

For instance, rather than ask, “How’s it going?” a supervisor may need to ask more specific, project-related questions. Examples might include “How’s the X project going?” or “Are you running into any roadblocks I can help you with?”

You’ll also need to give managers specific targets, such as meeting with each employee every two weeks to talk about goals and coach them toward better performance. Be sure to outline requirements for making notes about these conversations. If your company uses a particular platform or software for keeping record of biweekly meetings, provide your managers with instructions for logging into and using the system.

Ideally, these records will be accessible by both the manager and the employee.

This type of system makes it easier to communicate important reminders and keep everyone on track. It also creates a paper (or paperless) trail that allows managers to reward exceptional performance or build a case for termination, should that become necessary.

Address manager overload

It’s important to be realistic about what your managers can realistically handle when replacing annual reviews with a continuous improvement process.

There’s no way any single manager, no matter how skilled they may be, can offer guidance, coaching and analysis for 100 individual employees.

So, if you’ve got a flat organization with a few managers responsible for the work of dozens of employees, you will likely have to restructure into smaller teams, at least for the purpose of continuous improvement.

Making the switch

Before you switch from an annual review process to a continuous improvement model, you’ll need to communicate the change to employees at all levels. This change will require a culture shift from everyone in your organization.

Instead of setting goals once a year and not revisiting those goals until next year’s review, you’re asking leaders and employees to commit to a new style of working. It’s more collaborative, more flexible and more motivational, but it’s also new.

And, if you invest in new software to manage the process, you’ll need to provide training so that everyone knows how to use the new system.

The idea is that you’re building a relationship with each employee, top to bottom, that allows everyone’s contributions to be recognized throughout the year, not just once a year when it’s time for raises.

Discover more tips for motivating your workforce when you download our free magazine, The Insperity Guide to Employee Engagement.

Read more: insperity.com

Get SMART: Help Employees Write More Effective Performance Goals

Goal-setting is a critical part of the performance review process. But unrealistic or vague goals can frustrate employees, killing their motivation and productivity.

Goals should be written so they’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely (SMART). This practice leaves little to the imagination and provides clear communication between employees and supervisors.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are those that are:

Specific – It includes the who, what, when, where and how.
Measurable – A numeric or descriptive measure that defines quantity, quality, cost, etc.
Achievable – A goal that is within the employees’ control and influence.
Relevant – A goal that is important to the mission of the department and company.
Timely – A target date for completion or frequency of specific action steps that are important for achieving the goal.

General, broad goals can fade over the course of the year. Why? They’re weak. There’s no driving force behind them.

SMART goals force employees not only to consider what the goal is, but also to define success, how to achieve it, and how it will play into the business as a whole.

For example, a general employee goal might be “to sell more.” This leaves a lot of room for interpretation. What’s considered “more”? What’s the time frame? How will he accomplish this?

In contrast, if your employee followed the SMART goal method, his goal would be, “Every day I will visit five new businesses within ABC County with the objective of signing on 10 more XYZ accounts by Jan. 1.”

Here, the expectations are clear and there are measurable details that the employee can be held accountable for.

Here are three ways SMART goals can benefit your employees and your business:

1. Create clear lines of communication

With SMART goals, you and your employees can lay out all the details so you’re always on the same page. That way, when it comes to conducting a performance review, there are no surprises and neither party can say, “I didn’t know.”

2. Make a measurable difference

General goals are subjective, not measurable, making it difficult to evaluate employees’ work. Objective goals are black and white. You either achieve them or not. SMART goals have a straightforward formula for setting well-defined goals that include measurable details so you can easily evaluate and track your employees’ progress and performance.

3. Achieve company and department goals

While setting individual goals may motivate employees, they need to consider the bigger picture for their goals to make a real impact. If employees’ and managers’ goals are properly aligned with the overall company or department objectives for the year, the company is more likely to flourish. The SMART goals method helps make that happen by pushing employees to create individual goals that contribute to the overall success of your business.

Be a SMART coach

During the performance review process, you may be tempted to write your employees’ SMART goals for them. Don’t.

The manager’s job in the review process is to be a coach. Guide employees to set appropriate goals following the SMART method. Then review the goals and ensure they’re appropriate, reasonable, achievable, and aligned with company objectives.”

Employees will be much more motivated to meet a goal that they create versus one they’re tasked with. And the SMART method provides an easy-to-follow formula that everyone can use.

Looking for more pointers on how to set SMART expectations for your employees? Download our free e-book, How to Develop a Top-notch Workforce That Will Accelerate Your Business.

Read more: insperity.com

The Audacity to Dream

When our elected leaders’ actions fail to inspire us, wherever we live in the world, it’s far easier to unconsciously cast a new vote against them by refusing to engage with life. We withdraw and retreat in protest.

But what would happen if we instead allowed current circumstances to rekindle the fire of our inspiration? If we saw them as a call to arms to find our own leadership and dream anew?

Indeed, so much of true leadership is vision and dreaming. It’s not a well-crafted mission statement that gathers dust on the boardroom wall. No, it’s a living, breathing, challenging call to arms. We’re going to put a man on the moon. We’re going to make the perfect iPod. We’re going to dare to dream — and to dream wildly.

For years and years, we have been told to play it safe, work hard, stick with what’s possible. Neither a lender nor a borrower be. Only the foolhardy and courageous have the audacity to dream of a better world.

It’s time to ask: Who do we want to be? Where do we need to stretch? What is our dream for ourselves and for the world? Only when we build that muscle of dreaming for ourselves can we start to dream on behalf of others. This is “leading from the front” in the Co-Active Leadership model.

[tweet_box float=”right” width=”50%” design=”default”]Dare to dream. Dare to lead. It’s the only way to make big things happen.[/tweet_box]

Leader in front can sound misleadingly familiar. It seems like the old-fashioned goal-setting leadership: “I know where we’re going; follow me.” It might appear like the archaic command-and-control leadership of the 20th century assembly-line economy.

In fact, it is something vastly different. It has the energy of “come with me because I am passionate about where I’m going; and I trust you can be just as passionate about your role in our mission together.” Yes, there is pointing. The leader in front points to the goal. But there is also encouragement and enthusiasm and camaraderie. We are in this together. One arm points to the goal, but the other arm is stretched out behind and beckoning colleagues to join in the fun. That very action of pointing and beckoning makes the leader in front vulnerable. The leader’s arms are spread wide open, and the heart is open. Only by showing that vulnerability and that vision will the leader encourage others to share a common passion.

And then, miracles happen. The leadership becomes a fractal, repeated at different sizes and scales. When a leader in front shows me a vision, then my own internal leader in front can create a vision for my own role that fits into the pattern of the whole.

Dare to dream. Dare to lead. It’s the only way to make big things happen.

Read more: coactive.com

How Intrinsic Employee Motivation Will Help You Build Your Dream Team

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It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is. Without a driven team behind it, you will not succeed. And times are tough for companies looking to hire. Competition is high for finding and retaining those star employees that will set your business apart. Now, more than ever, it has become critical for companies to engage and excite their employees (both current and potential).

With new generations entering the workforce, the issue of employee motivation has become especially salient. Skilled employees have no shortage of work options, so why should they choose to dedicate themselves to your company’s growth and success? How are you motivating them?

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of employee motivation, I’d like you to take a second and think about the worst job you’ve ever had, and the best job you’ve ever had. Now, think about why- what are some factors that made one job so horrible and the other so great? Did you put in equal effort at both jobs? Keep these thoughts in mind as you read!

Motivation & The Brain

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On the surface, motivation in the workplace boils down to the level of excitement and determination an employee brings to their job. But let’s get deeper than that… Motivation can actually be thought of as a biological process, more specifically, a neurochemical response which triggers action.

Here’s how it works: A stimuli, let’s say a nice phone call from a supervisor, initiates the release of Dopamine in the brain. This release of Dopamine does not signal an actual reward, but rather signals the prediction of a possible reward. Once your brain is made aware of this reward prediction, it conducts a cost-benefit analysis. If the benefit outweighs the cost, a signal is sent to the rest of your body which initiates action to receive the reward. Once you obtain your reward, your brain releases even more dopamine which makes you feel good and helps you continue feeling motivated. For a more in depth explanation of what motivation looks like in the brain, check out The Behavioral Neuroscience of Motivation and The Science of Motivation.

Psychological theories surrounding motivation focus on the relationship between motivation and goals. According to John Arnold, professor of organizational psychology at Loughborough University Business School and author of Work Psychology, motivation boils down to three components:

Direction: What goal is this person trying to achieve?
Effort: How hard is this person working to achieve this goal?
Persistence: How long is this person willing to work towards this goal?

But what does all this mean for companies? And how can you motivate employees to view the company’s goals as their own?

How Does Motivating Employees Increase your Bottom Line?

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According to one Gallup survey, only 15% of employees in today’s global workforce feel engaged. That’s a crappy number that brings cause for concern, especially when you consider the direct correlation between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and overall profit. This connection makes it clear that if businesses want to succeed, they need to pay attention to motivating their employees.

So how does this connection manifest? For one, motivated employees are:

More productive, which leads to greater success in achieving company objectives .
More likely to provide excellent customer service, which results in… you guessed it, happy customers. (If you are interested in learning more about this relationship, check out some of my past work on the topic).
Less likely to turn-over which significantly impacts your company’s culture. That in itself will help you attract and retain more superstar employees to help keep the positive cycle flowing.

Let’s get into what types of motivation are out there, and which are the most beneficial for cultivating employee, customer, and company success.

Types of Motivation:
1. Intrinsic Motivation:

Intrinsic motivation comes from within. It is about reaching self-generated goals and satisfying one’s personal needs, whether that means proving autonomy, competence, or capability to oneself. In terms of the work world, intrinsic motivation means that the persons’ work role and responsibilities line up with their internal expectations. This is truly the strongest and longest-lasting form of motivation, but it is also the most difficult to inspire. Intrinsic motivation can take many forms, below are a few examples.

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Achievement Motivation:

The feeling of accomplishment is a powerful internal motivator. When your employees feel that they are purposefully working towards their goals within your company and that their current role aligns with their personal goals, they feel more motivated to “keep it up”. Your job as an employer is to make your employees aware of their current achievements and help them realize the potential for future accomplishments.

How to Motivate Through Achievement:

Setting goals (short & long-term):

Tangibly mapping goals is helpful in realizing accomplishments. Working with your employees on setting weekly, or even daily, goals is a great way to help them visualize their achievements. And there is something fantastic about crossing-off a task on your to-do list (it releases dopamine which strengthens your motivation!) Tools like Trello and Asana are great for encouraging short-term goal setting within your team.

In regards to long term goals, I would encourage managers and employers to sit down with their employees regularly to learn about their long term goals: Where do they see themselves in one year? What about ten? How is their current role at your company helping them get there? Having these conversations regularly will help employees AND employers ensure that the current position aligns with employees’ long-term goals.

Competition (with themselves):

Harnessing competitive spirit in the workplace can be tricky. On one hand, it can be motivating for the right employee, but on the other hand, it can create tension and damage your company’s culture. No one needs office politics or a toxic culture. Rather than encouraging employees to compete against each other, why not encourage them to compete against themselves? Keep employees informed of their current personal best records, (whether that translates to sales quotas, production expectations, positive customer reviews, OKRs, etc) and challenge them to beat them.

Competence Motivation:

Competence motivation can be viewed as a more specific subset of achievement motivation. It arises from our desire to obtain a certain level of mastery: The promise of that awesome feeling you get after mastering a new skill or successfully solving a problem serves as motivation in this case.

How to Motivate Through Reinforcing Competence:

Positive Recognition:

A dangerous mistake many employers make is that they center their feedback solely on what employees are doing wrong. Critical feedback is an important part of learning, yes, but it needs to be balanced with positive feedback. Verbal recognition for a job well done goes a long way, in fact, the Aon 2018 Trends in Global Employee Engagement survey measured responses from over 1,000 companies worldwide and found employee recognition for contributions to be the “the strongest driver of engagement.” Recognizing their efforts gives employees the reward their brain is craving.

Autonomy:

If your employees are handling their work well, further reinforce their sense of competence by granting them more independence and responsibility. Allow them to dictate the ways they meet goals. Giving them a choice in the way that they work signals that you trust in them and their abilities. Why? Because they have proven themselves capable. Now that they know you believe in their skill, they will feel motivated to prove you right!

2. Extrinsic Motivation:

Extrinsic motivation depends on outside forces or rewards. These external motivators often contribute toward achieving intrinsic goals. In this way, extrinsic motivation can be viewed as a secondary form of motivation. Extrinsic motivators are the things that typically come to mind when you think “employee motivation”, i.e raises, bonuses, and benefits. While this form of motivation is the most obvious and most common, I believe it is also the least effective.

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Financial Motivation

Financial motivation is likely the one you are most familiar with: “I need this job because the pay is great.” I’m not going to sit here and pretend like pay is not an important motivator because it is, HOWEVER, what I will argue is that pay as a sole motivator is completely unsustainable. It is important for you to balance financial motivation with other forms of intrinsic motivation.

How to Motivate Through Financial Incentives:

Salary

Providing a competitive salary for your employees is extremely important and I’m not going to argue against it. But, as I stated earlier, it can’t be your sole motivator. If it is, what is stopping your employees from leaving their position with you once they are offered a higher paying position somewhere else?

Raises + bonuses

Again, these are important incentives and work as great motivators, but they can not function on their own. Think about it like this – once your employees become accustomed to constantly receiving financial incentives, they will begin to expect them. When times are tough and you are not able to provide your employees with the financial rewards they expect, what will serve as their motivation to continue to perform at the same level they had been when they were receiving such rewards?

Incentive Motivation

Incentive motivation involves motivation through forms of tangible, external rewards. Financial incentives are a significant part of incentive motivation, but there are many other forms of rewards associated with this type of motivation.

How to Motivate with Other Forms of External Rewards:

Benefits

Paid-time-off, insurance, and retirement options: In a perfect world, you can offer all these things and more to employees. But unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and your company may not be in a place to offer sweet benefit packages to all of its employees (especially if you are just starting out). If that is the case, substituting the extrinsic benefits you can’t yet offer with intrinsic motivators that you can is a great way of keeping employees motivated and inspired.

Office Perks

I’m based in Silicon Valley, so I see this a lot: Companies essentially bribing employees to come to work with all types of cool perks. Take Google, for example, they offer their employees everything from 5-star meals to yoga and free haircuts. And yes, everyone wants to work there because of it. However, Google is able to balance these perks with intrinsic motivators such as high-quality training and employee autonomy.

When it comes to providing perks, my question for you is this: Do you want people working for you because of the perks you offer or because of what your company is actually doing? Yes, people are excited to come to the office, but are they equally excited about doing the work? My guess is no. Giving away free muffins each morning will only get you so far in terms of employee motivation.

Beware of Superficial Motivators

I’m just going to lay it out for you: Extrinsic forms of motivation are far less effective (in the long run) than intrinsic forms of motivation. Why? Because they are only surface-deep.

The biggest problem with relying solely on extrinsic forms of motivation is that your employees will only do the work because they now expect some type of incentivizing reward. They aren’t putting in the effort because they sincerely care about the growth of themselves or your company. It’s because they want that bonus or love their office space but don’t love the actual work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to do away with all extrinsic forms of motivation, because, well let’s face it, you’d have a difficult time retaining or hiring anyone if you did. Rather, I’m pointing out that managers should switch the emphasis from external to internal motivators. Make an effort to bring these internal motivators to your employees’ attention. You can still provide your employees with good pay and great benefits, but these CANNOT be your company’s sole motivators, or you will end up with a disloyal and disengaged group of employees.

Taking the time to strategize how your company can meet your employees’ intrinsic needs will result in more motivated and excited employees, which at the end of the day leads to happy customers and greater profit.

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