A busy manager communicates an important task to an employee, the manager explains how important it is to the organization, and the employee seems interested in immediately getting to work to help the business succeed.
Then, the manager does the unthinkable.
The manager says: “Do your best.”
Everything was set up for this employee to knock this task out of the park, and then the manager just shot the whole effort in the foot with that terrible phrase: “Do your best.”
As explained in her excellent book, “Succeed,” psychologist Heidi Grant Halverson, Ph.D, explains that “Do Your Best” is so vague that it leaves employees feeling “I’ll do just good enough so that my manager will believe this is my best.” But the result is hardly the employee’s best.
Instead of giving the employee the vague “do your best” mantra, managers need to give their employees specific and difficult goals to reach.
Let me say that again: Give your employees specific and difficult goals.
And yes, there’s science behind this.
As Halvorsen explains, more than 1,000 studies have shown that setting the bar high and specific results in much better results.
But the science gets even better.
These studies show that employees actually LIKE having specific and difficult goals. This is because taking on a challenge and succeeding at it gives employees greater satisfaction and increases their overall sense of well-being.
In fact, Halvorsen explains, it can create what researchers call the “high performance cycle”:
“job stisfaction increases people’s commitment to their organization and confidence in themselves, which leads them to challenge themselves more, which leads to better performance and more satisfaction, and so on and so on …”
The key to all this is that those specific and difficult goals must also be realistic.
More on that in a future blog.