Add up the Small Wins

This is the time of year when many of us sit down and make BIG plans. We lay out enormous goals. Last year’s goals get recycled  (even if we aren’t quite sure why we didn’t hit them on the first go-round). Heck, we recycle from the last century: “I’m going to get in shape.”

What can get lost in all of this is an understanding of PROGRESS — where, when and how we’re making it.

Recognizing progress — small wins, little steps, milestones — is one of the most important things anyone can do. It’s particularly important for leaders, however, and this year, with tighter budgets and stretched staff at almost every enterprise, it will be crucial. If you don’t recognize and reward progress, you’re missing a really easy way to inspire and motivate.

If you’re the boss, put a little yellow sticky on the side of your computer screen that says “what progress have I praised today?” (If “praise” makes you squeamish, skip the alliteration and go with “recognized.”) If you’re not the boss, put up a sticky that says “what was today’s small win?” — and then answer the question as you power down for the evening.

And whether you’re the boss or not, read more from the authors of The Progress Principle on Harvard Business Review’s blog.