How can a follower be at the top of the pack one year and in the bottom half the following year?
What keeps top producers working long and hard after they make so much money that they don’t have time to spend it?
Leaders constantly strive to instill and maintain commitment to a vision, goal or outcome among their followers. As we’ve seen, one key to that is understanding people’s needs and how they change in response to changing market conditions and others. What happens in a down economy or a down market, for example?
One of the amazing things I’ve observed in working with hundreds of sales people is that a person can be on top one year and in the middle of the pack, or even lower, the next year. The motivational tactics that worked one year often do not work in subsequent years, leaving leaders scratching their heads.
Conversely, a person who is struggling can come from being placed on a performance plan to President’s Club status in one year.
Approaches that netted a lackluster response a few years ago might now move people significantly ahead toward the achievement of their goals. Although I use sales people as an example in this post, the information can be used for anyone in any position.
Some of the reasons for such dramatic changes have to do with how followers’ needs evolve as they struggle through business or economic changes. People’s inner beliefs about their abilities also change over time and with changing economic conditions.
When an employee’s heart and mind are fully engaged, high commitment is possible. However, the distraction of a worsening environment or market can have a devastating effect on performance. People’s commitment to a goal will wane when the goal loses value to them or when they believe the goal is no longer achievable.
If leadership is sales and sales exists to satisfy needs, then a leader must understand how a follower’s needs can change with economic conditions. A person who faces ever-changing obstacles and objectives may come to view a past accomplishment as something that is impossible to achieve again. For example, a salesperson may view last year’s accomplishment as nearly impossible now because of changing conditions, such as greater competition or fewer customers in the marketplace.
While a leader cannot make or command someone to be motivated, you can create a motivating environment or help followers see that the existing environment will work to satisfy their needs and is achievable – that is, sell them on what it will do for them and that they have what it takes to achieve in this environment. To do that, it is critical to understand how people’s commitment to a goal or outcome can change as their needs change.
Learn how to identify changing needs, create an environment for maximum motivation and enhance followers’ views of what’s possible: