Visualization—A Key to Inspirational Leadership

In today’s multigenerational workforce, it’s constantly a challenge to train, motivate, and lead your organization’s employees. Visualization and imagery can help, however, as shown in today’s article by Chris Ainsworth, head of talent and organizational development for TD Bank®.

Maintaining high levels of employee engagement in the workplace was the top challenge facing HR professionals last year, according to the Society of Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) annual survey. While cultivating an engaged workforce will no doubt continue to be a top priority for organizations, there’s another looming issue many have yet to grapple with: the retirement of around 65 million Baby Boomers.

Hand in hand with the departure of Boomers comes the need for companies to develop a new generation of leaders—something that worries two out of every five HR professionals based on SHRM’s question about the human capital challenges anticipated for the next decade.

So, what’s an HR professional to do? A recent study by TD Bank suggests that a psychological technique known as visualization can be an incredibly useful tool to motivate individuals. While the TD Bank study focused on the use of images to inspire consumers to attain financial goals, many of the lessons learned are just as relevant to HR professionals looking to motivate their teams and their company’s larger workforce.

The good news is, the TD report found a greater willingness among Gen Xers and Millennials to use visualization and imagery. So, as you welcome these new leaders, imagery may be the key to connecting with and encouraging them. Respondents in these age groups said that they used visuals for inspiration to improve their focus on the task at hand and because envisioning their goals made them more likely to accomplish them.

To further explore the tactics that can be useful in a workplace setting, the following is the first of a few suggestions from Barbara Nusbaum, PhD, an expert in the psychology of money, who worked with TD Bank to analyze the results of the study, along with tips on how these results can be applied by HR professionals within the workplace.

Post Photographs or Other Visuals That Represent Your Firm and Team Goals

Consider your team’s top priorities for 2016. Are you looking to increase applications to your internship or entry-level associate program? Decrease firm turnover rates? Improve internal communications around HR initiatives? Posting visual aids that either explicitly or implicitly convey these goals can be a good way to align efforts and expectations among your team members.

Beyond using images to focus the work of your direct reports, you may also want to consider encouraging other groups across your firm to tap into visualization. According to the TD Bank survey, the majority of Americans find images of goals to be inspirational, with 56% saying visuals enable them to stay focused. Whether through elaborate visual aids in the office or a digital bulletin board, conveying what’s most important to employees in a pictorial way serves to further reinforce plans.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we will look at more from Ainsworth on the use of visualization to train and motivate your team.