Thursday, January 19, 2012

The “away-from” personality and 2012 goals

Lots of people set goals. But did you know that not all goals are things someone is trying to achieve? Some people talk about goals that are things they want to AVOID!

Instead of a goal to “achieve a 30% profit margin”, it might be a goal to “avoid slipping below the 32% margin we had last year”. A purchasing agent might focus more on reducing costs instead of giving her attention to on-time delivery of parts even though both are important.

People who think like this have a mindset called an “away-from” personality. They focus on avoiding things. They want to stay “away-from” problems or undesirable outcomes rather than pursue or run toward desirable outcomes. In brainstorming sessions, these are the people who talk about problems that may need to be avoided or negative consequences that must be anticipated. They will say, “We certainly don’t want that to happen. We need to plan how to prevent that from happening.” These are also people who are energized by finding problems to solve rather than celebrating goals that are achieved.

To influence such a person, it is important to state your value in terms of what problems are avoided or solved. Instead of saying, “we can increase your sales”, say, “we can shorten your sales cycle”. Instead of “We can help you hire people who fit your organization,” you need to say, “We can help reduce your bad hires and surprises.”

Look at your goals for 2012. Are they “away-from” or “toward”? This might help you better understand your natural orientation and give you some ideas for how you may need to adjust your approach to some people to increase your effectiveness and reduce the times you fail to have an impact.

Think about how you present your value to a customer or prospect or even an employee. State your value in two ways. First, look at what your value adds to someone. Second, say what your value helps someone avoid or prevent or solve. In this way, you can appeal to both the “away-from” people as well as the “toward” people who are moving toward a desirable goal.

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