Speaking to a group of salespeople at their year-end conference, the brief wasn’t pretty. Sales figures were down on previous years , creating low morale within the organisation. How do you change those feelings and make sure those people, not only finish the year strong, but have a plan in place for the New Year to deliver consistent results?

I called a few salespeople in advance, from the team’s top performers, to the lower performers on the sales board. What I heard was a whole lot of excuses as to why they were struggling to meet budgets. What was made clear to me, was something we all need to have in place if we want to not only meet sales budgets,  but win at whatever it is we are striving for?

When delivering the keynote, I knew people had to be told the cold hard facts, but if you go about a presentation in that way, you have the whole audience against you, and the message and actionable takeaways fall on deaf ears.

It had to be about not what the company fell short on but what they personally didn’t achieve. Let me explain.

What was it, that they didn’t achieve over the last 11 months outside of their career? Maybe they didn’t get to renovate the bathroom, manage to send their kid to school camp, or book that holiday of a lifetime. It could be anything. But rather than them being told what they didn’t achieve at work, what didn’t they achieve that’s personal to them, what they care about and what sparks that “emotional connection”.

I’m not under the illusion that everybody goes to work because they're passionate about what they do. The fact is if most of us won the Lotto, we wouldn’t be back in the office come Monday or well at least serve our notice.

It’s easier to get excited and commit to your own goals than it is your organisation.  From this emotional space I could make them accountable for their results.   Why? Because it became personal and not solely professional.

What they needed now was to be responsible for their “own” success and not just that of the company’s.  Creating a sense of accountability of what was not achieved  their personal lives , and the knock on effect to others is critical to driving the message home.

The “knock on” effect can be highlighted by building  a list of others that get affected by your underperformance.  This has to start with “you” but easily the first impact it has is on your immediate family, your loved ones and children. Even if it’s not about just providing financially for them,  what impact does your low morale from not achieving at work have on them.  What about your friends, a club or church if you are part of one? How about your local community? What great thing could have been done if you were firing on all cylinders and kicking goals in your career?

We can be accountable to a wider amount of people than just ourselves. We can feel obligated to be successful when we have all these people relying on us. We need to build a bigger responsibility than just us. We could call it a pressure to perform, but it’s broader than that. We have a whole group of people that, not only rely on us, but support us in what we do. It's humbling if you think about it?

We all need an accountability plan, a list of people that we are responsible to and obligated to perform at our best for. They will keep us engaged and help validate what we are doing. The bigger and wider the list of people, the better chance you have.

I left the stage, knowing I had just added yet another layer to my own accountability list. I had a whole new group of salespeople that were counting on me to perform at my best and inspire them moving forward into the New Year and beyond.

Success is infectious, it does not live in isolation, it will seep into all areas of your life .