Things for teams to try: Improving Accomplishment

One of the joys of work is when we feel we're good at what we do and we're geting things done. We seek that sense of movement, that sense of progress, that sense of achievement - and we get frustrated when they're missing.

15 Accomplishment - team

1. Share your achievements in Friday

Make a note of what you've achieved individually or as a team this week and then review what you're all celebrating together. This allows you - and everyone else - to move away from just paying attention to how far you've got to go, and really notice how far you've come too!

2. Focus on the small things and celebrate them

Think micro-accomplishments rather than mega-accomplishments. You can help yourself and others to do this by introducing little rituals for noticing what has been achieved each week. This helps surface progress so it’s front and centre in our minds, which then motivates us to achieve more.

3. Identify what's holding you back

Get together as a team and spend 15 minutes brainstorming the things that prevented you from feeling you accomplished things last month. Blocks that often come up often include IT issues, having to jump through too many hoops, feeling unsupported, lack of role clarity, not being able to use strengths and a low sense of job control.

  • Can you find ways to take some of the blocks away?
  • Can you find inventive ways around them?

For those blocks which seem more difficult to dismantle:

  • Can you find ways to reduce their negative effects on your sense of accomplishment?
  • Who outside the team can help you?

Together identify the actions you expect will be best at removing your blocks. Choose those that feel do-able and share responsibility for implementing them across the team.

4. Write a ""To Day"" list, rather than a ""To Do"" list

If your To Do List feels taller than you are, then it could be time to change up your approach. When our lists get too big, it becomes harder to see the progress we are making.

Yes, we may cross something off the top, but then the eyes immediately scan the page to see everything else patiently (and sometimes less patiently!) waiting for our attention. We're instantly robbed of the sense of satisfaction we should genuinely feel for having got something done. And our adrenaline surges as we think about how to prioritize our other activities.

If this feels familiar to you, then try and move to a To Day list. At the end of each working day, write three to five things you want to get done the following day - and just look at this list! When the day ends, you will hopefully see an entire list crossed out. This will feel pretty novel - and good! Use this positive energy to revisit your longer To Do list to prioritize your next day's To Day list, and so on.

By focusing the brain on a smaller number of things, you'll feel like you are achieving more. You'll feel lighter for it - and you'll probably get more done!

5. Take cognitive breaks

The important word here is cognitive. Too often when we break from work we switch from work tasks to life admin or we switch out the computer screen for a mobile phone screen - and our brains don't get the rest they need.

A cognitive break is about engaging our brain in a totally different way. Breaks that include thing going outside, stretching and chatting with colleagues deliver end-of-the-day energy benefits. But breaks that are filled with other cognitive tasks - such as checking social media and sorting out the energy bill - are not breaks for the brain at all.

So raise the profile and value of cognitive breaks in the team - and support one another to take them. Psychological research has found we're less able to recognise the need for a break, the more tired we get. When we are all wrapped up in work it can feel easier to keep going rather than give up. When we most need a break, we least want it.

This is where friends can help too. You know the conversation starters your colleagues can't resist engaging in - or the nearby eateries they won't miss an opportunity to go to. Make them an invitation to step away from work they simply can't resist!

6. Keep your heads up

A sense of accomplishment is contingent on our ability to focus; but it's also affected by our ability to anticipate what's on the horizon.

When it feels like new business priorities appear out of nowhere, disrupting what we had planned for the week or month, it's easy to lose sight of our goals and our progress toward them. Teams can mitigate this risk by getting into the habit of thinking about any potential client or organizational changes which might affect them in the near future. If things feel like they could be a little tumultuous then ask yourselves:

  • How can we ride this period ahead with our sense of accomplishment intact?
  • Are our goals for the month still relevant?
  • Do we need to push some goals out?
  • Do we need to prioritize on anything new?

If things feel too busy for all of you to stay focused and pay attention to what's coming up, then nominate a team member to take the role of ""scout"". They can keep their eyes and ears open for what's on the horizon, collate the signals they are receiving and report back to the team each month.