The answer is: Make someone smile. Why? Because the more specific your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them, and that results in you being happier and work being more meaningful as you check off items on your list.
This above example isn't my idea or even plain common sense. Rather it comes from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, where participants were divided into two groups and asked either to make someone smile or to make someone happy.
Participants who were trying to make someone smile were able to do it quickly and simply with a joke or gift, and they reported creating greater happiness than those asked to make someone happier. Another example I've found is that you'll get better results if you ask someone to recycle their cans than if you'd ask them to save the environment.
In addition, research by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham found that when people made goals that were specific and challenging, it led to higher performance 90 percent of the time.
Goals: Write them down and encourage your employees to do so, too!
This newer research builds on the often-referenced study in 1979 where graduating Harvard MBA students were asked, "Have you set clear, written goals for your future, and made plans to accomplish them?" It was found that 83 percent of participants didn't have specific goals. Fourteen percent had a plan in mind, but had not written anything down. Only three percent of the students wrote down their goals.
Fast forward to 10 years later...
The class members were interviewed again 10 years later. They found that the three percent of people that had specific written goals were earning 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of people in the study.
Now knowing this, or even if you knew this before, how diligent are you about writing down your goals and about making them specific, and do you encourage your employees to write them down (after discussing their role in them so they can find the meaning in them)?
What does this tell us as communicators?
That specificity helps people set achievable goals, which means that can feel good when they achieve them, and also means that progress is being made. We can help ensure that leadership vision in shared in an inspiring way and a way that makes sense to employees as they perform daily tasks.