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Employee Engagement and the Power of Micro-Goals. 

When I ask my audiences at keynote or seminars to describe how they feel when they achieve a goal, I regularly get words like “Positive, Upbeat, Happy, Satisfied, Motivated.” Most of the answers obviously suggest a positive emotion although I sometimes hear words like “Relieved” or “Surprised.” To be honest, I get a little sad when I hear those latter responses as it seems to suggest a real lack of confidence and self-belief in the responder.

For the vast majority of my audience, the reason why we experience these positive emotions is because of a chemical in the brain knows as Dopamine. Dopamine is often referred to as the feel good chemical. When something positive happens to us e.g. like achieving a goal, our kid gets great school grades, you win $50 in the lottery, the brain ‘rewards’ you by generating dopamine which makes you feel good / upbeat for a period of time. 


FIVE Daily Dopamine Hits!

In this article, I will provide you five very simple Micro-Goals to help you generate FIVE hits of dopamine each day that will not only help you to feel better but those around you also. Those Micro-Goals spell the acronym CHAPS, which is not a very difficult word to remember, now is it, chaps? (and chapesses!) 

The Micro-Goals relate to: 

Compliment one person today 

Hear ‘Thank You’ 

Address colleagues / customers with their name 

Positive words create positive impact 

Smile – as in, Put a smile on someone’s face. 


Now, you might already be utilizing some of these ideas, but the reason why I suggest you specifically set these CHAPS elements AS GOALs is because when you implement them you will feel better because you have achieved a Micro-Goal which generates the dopamine and quite likely encourages you to repeat the exercise in the future. The other truly positive factor about these Micro-Goals is that each of them will help to build a better relationship between you and your colleagues / customers / vendors etc. It is a genuine Win-Win 


Micro-Goal I: Compliment One Person today. 

Here’s a few questions to get the ball rolling!

Is it fair to say that when you receive a compliment from a superior or peer, you feel more motivated and engaged? 

Is it also fair to say that when you receive a compliment it generally enhances your perception of the person that provided the compliment? 

You’ve probably answered “Yes” to both of those questions. 

Now, let’s flip the questions so that it is now you who is providing the compliment.

Is it fair to say that when you compliment a work colleague, that colleague is likely to feel more motivated and engaged? 

Is it also fair to say that when you compliment a work colleague, it is likely to enhance their perception of you? 

Again, you probably answered “Yes.” 

So, here is the first basic step that you can take to improve employee engagement and morale. Set yourself a Micro-Goal that “I will compliment one person today.” 

When you compliment that one person, what happens? You realize “Hey, I’ve achieved my goal” and ……. the dopamine kicks in. You feel better. But what about the person you have complimented. They obviously will feel better and happier also. It is a win-win situation. 


Micro-Goal II: Hear the words “Thank You” 

The idea here is that I will do something specific and deliberate for a colleague or customer today that will generate a “Thank You.” Once you hear that “Thank You” you hear yourself saying “I’ve achieved my goal” and Voila! Dopamine. You feel good, but you can be reasonably sure that the person you have helped is grateful and appreciative and likely to reciprocate at some stage. 


Micro-Goal III: Address Colleagues / Customers with their name 

Unless your name is Bob, it is quite likely that your name has been mis-spelled at some stage. (Don’t get me started on the number of people who spell “Conor” incorrectly. Dear reader, we could not afford two ‘n’s back in Ireland!) You also probably get annoyed when someone calls you by an incorrect name. 

I would argue that the most impactful word in the vocabulary of the person who is speaking to you is your name. The most impactful word you can use when speaking to a customer / employee / Vendor is that person’s name. It immediately helps you connect better with that person. 

And ……….. when you hear yourself achieving your goal by mentioning a person’s name in conversation, well……. you’re going to feel better because of goal achievement AND the person you are speaking to will feel a stronger, more visceral connection to you simply because you used the most impactful word.  


Micro-Goal IV: Use Positive Words in Conversation

Some people just make you feel good. Some people don’t! Words and phrases are really important in generating a good work atmosphere and environment. Set yourself a Micro-Goal that in conversation today, you will deliberately and intentionally drop in positive words or phrases. It will change the conversation and how people see you as once again, you generate another dopamine hit that benefits not just you but your colleagues. 


Micro-Goal V: Smile  

The Micro-Goal here is not for you to smile but for you to put a Smile on someone’s face. (Guess what reaction a compliment would generate?) You know what happens when you see someone smile. That’s right. You Smile also. Again a win-win situation, CHAPS! 

So there you have it. Five Micro-Goals that you can achieve every day that will help you feel better and just as importantly your colleagues / customers feel better. 

Be intentional. Decide you will implement CHAPS and you can change your workplace and the level of employee engagement and customer satisfaction. Best of luck, CHAPS (and chapesses!)