This is, by far, the best time of the year. The weather is cooling and the sports world is heating up. The World Series is featuring a worst-to-first contender, NBA training camps are under way and the college and pro gridirons are in full swing. But to be successful in the world of sports, you’ve got have to Mo on your side.
In the sports world, momentum is everything, and can change in the blink of an eye, swinging quickly from one direction to another. As Baseball Hall of Fame Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver once observed, “Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.”
In the professional world, momentum is perhaps not as fickle, but is no less important. To have great success, momentum must be created. In today’s market, that can be a tough thing to develop. But it could be the very thing that turns your organization or company around.
Casting a new vision, setting initiatives in place, the launch of a new product or service, the creation of a team, and a series of successes are all ways in which momentum can be built. And when a leader recognizes that momentum is occurring, and takes full advantage of it, the results can be outstanding. Unfortunately, just because forward motion is being made, it’s not guaranteed to stay. If momentum starts fading, there’s a tendency for your subordinates, and even yourself as the leader, to going through the motions of complacency. Therefore, not only must momentum be created, but a premium should be placed on making it last.
It is the leader’s responsibility to keep the ball rolling, maintaining momentum to not just achieve immediate objectives, but your long-term vision as well. Here’s five tips to help keep “Mo” on your side:
Re-Set Greater Challenges
Perhaps the easiest thing to do is keep raising the bar. Once a goal is achieved, it’s tempting to ease off the accelerator, pull back and catch a collective breath. Simon & Schuster publishing icon Michael Korda offered this advice: “One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.” Setting new company-wide objectives each time one is achieved will consistently keep you moving full steam ahead corporately. Keep the new goals attainable and in line with what got you started—and make sure they fit in with the overall vision you have already created.
Review Individual Efforts
“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work,” Super Bowl-winning coach Vince Lombardi once said. Individual efforts within your organization helped create the initial momentum, and they will be crucial to helping maintain it. In addition to establishing new corporate goals, meet individually with each player on your team. Evaluate their contributions for the previous momentum push and outline the next steps needed from him or her to keep things accelerating. Also gauge their perspective of where things were, where they are now and where they are going to keep an active read on the momentum pulse of your corporate culture.
You don’t want to be a task master, constantly pushing people to the brink of exhaustion to keep momentum. Give subordinates a break when appropriate to prevent burn out—whether it’s a corporate outing or simply a day away from the office—allowing them to get re-energized and refocused on the task at hand. Just be wary of too much of a break: In 2007 the Colorado Rockies had tremendous momentum, winning 21 out of 22 games, including 10 straight as they headed into the World Series. But an eight-day layoff killed the team’s streak and they were swept out of their championship bid in just four games. Keep the focus on re-energizing, not relaxing.
Something started the momentum you are experiencing. While you may not be able to completely recapture what created the initial buzz, you can facilitate events that will remind your team of what got them here. Holding corporate outings, retreats, training sessions, rallies and team-building exercises on a regular basis will rekindle the original vision and purpose of the team, helping further a sense of excitement and keep your pace.
Recognize and Reward
Being a part of something big can get anyone excited and build momentum. But once the newness is gone, catering to the individual can keep things rolling for your team. Celebrate victories that have been hard-earned to generate the momentum by rewarding your team, either with symbolic accolades or real value awards. Offer ongoing incentives for team members who routinely go above and beyond and recognize their efforts on an organizational-wide basis. Not only will it encourage recipients to continue their efforts, but others will be motivated as well.
This post is part of a leadership development series appearing on The Hiring Site. For more tips on how to grow your leadership skills and develop them in others within your organization, tune back each week.
How do you maintain momentum in your organization? How are you trying to create in this economic climate?