Alex knew Chase had tremendous potential. As his manager, Alex was frustrated watching someone like Chase wallow in mediocrity when he should have been excelling in the workplace. It wasn’t laziness; Chase always did what was required. It wasn’t a poor attitude either. In fact, Chase often commented on how much he loved his job. He just seemed stuck, so as his manager, Alex decided it was his responsibility to help take Chase’s performance to the next level. The question is, what could he do?

Alex’s dilemma is all too common in the workplace. Managers feel a responsibility and a need to help employees raise their game. It’s good for the company, the employee and usually the customer wins, too. But most managers don’t know how, and threats and coercive tactics fail to have any lasting impact. Incentives represent a much healthier approach, but the increase in performance often disappears as the incentive does.

There is another way! As a manager or supervisor, you are in the unique position to influence people who report to you. Unfortunately, most managers choose to influence their people by telling them things, rather than asking good questions, then giving great affirmations. The trick is knowing what to ask and what to affirm. Through the following four-step process, employees will be transformed from the inside out—a quantum leap—and it will be their choice to go from chump to champ!


1.What is the Dream? Surprisingly, most people don't have a clear dream, and it’s usually because of one reason: They haven't decided what they want to be, want to do or want to have. A dream is a picture of the future we want for ourselves, so as a manager, you must ask the tough questions and help your people discover the answers. Ask questions like:

• “If you could be doing anything you wanted here, what would it be? Tell me why.”

• “What activities here give you the strongest feelings of satisfaction or importance? Why is that?”

• “If you were guaranteed success, what would you dare to dream for yourself?”

• “What is a dream in your personal life that your work here might help you achieve?”

Have your employee write down the answers to these and others like them. Assist him or her in starting a Quantum Leap notebook and call this, “Step One—Declaring My Dream.”

2. What is the Target? A target is a specific goal that must be hit in order to make a dream become a reality. Dreams that are not backed by specific goals will often remain unrealized visions. A really good goal refers to some action that, if done well enough or often enough, will result in the dream turning from fantasy to fact. Ask questions like, “What specific target could you aim for that would take you closer to your dream?” “How will you measure your progress?” Here’s an example:

• Dream—Become the top sales representative in my department.

• Improper target—Outwork all other sales reps. (How will you measure ‘outwork’?)

• Proper target—Make 20 percent more outgoing phone calls each week to prospective clients than the office average from the week before.

Have your employee write down one or two targets that involve measurable activities to keep track of progress. Guide the person to select targets that require stretching to reach, but are not out of reach.

This information should be entered in the Quantum Leap notebook as, “Step Two—Identifying My Targets.”

3. What Will Be Imagined? Images are the language of the brain. If the sub conscious receives those pictures often enough, personal behavior will be modified to fit the pictures. The subconscious brain is eager for information, but it does not judge the information you send it as good or bad, right or wrong. It just accepts it, and assumes you want it. Ask questions like:

• “When you imagine hitting your targets and achieving your dream, what does it look like in your mind's eye?”

• “Describe what you see, what you hear and what your success feels like?”

• Make an affirmation like, “Since I'm familiar with you and your work, let me share what I see regarding your success.” Then describe what you see for them.

If you truly believe in a person’s potential, the images you share from the theater of your mind will have the force of a prophecy and create a sense of confidence.

Encourage people to play success scenes in their mind daily. This imagery should also be written by each of you and entered into the Quantum Leap notebook as, “Step Three—Seeing My Success.”

4. What is Believed? If a person has a dream, has taken aim on specific targets, and has practiced imagining the desired outcome in advance, there’s only one thing that could stand in their way ... roadblock messages. Roadblock messages are the self -limiting beliefs that people think to themselves. Many of your employees have solid dreams, lofty targets and may even enjoy some moments of mental rehearsal, but if they hear a small little voice in their head saying, “I can't do that,” or, “I'm not good enough to hit that goal,” the chances of success are slim. Use affirmations like:

• “I know you will hit the goal,” or, “I believe in you,” or, “There’s no stopping you now!” Make it clear that you believe how this is going to end.

• Ask questions like, “What does the little voice in your head say about your chances of success?”

• “What part of this challenge intimidates you the most?”

Discover what personal roadblock messages they hear and help them replace those messages with new messages. Explain that self-talk must be positive and repeated daily if it's going to replace negative self-talk. A mental “upgrade” begins with “I can; I am; I do; or I succeed at ...” These statements should be written and entered into the Quantum Leap notebook as, “Step Four—Believing My Success.”

Initially, you will coach the four steps in sequence, but soon realize that they become integrated steps. On any given day, your employee’s thoughts will glide seamlessly from the high altitude of a dream, down to the earthly details of the day’s most immediate target. Your employee’s life is being transformed because he or she sees their world differently. And because they see the world is!

EDITOR’S NOTE: David Benzel, founder of Winning Ways, is an author and speaker on leadership and creating peak performance. He is the author of, “Chump to Champ: How Individuals Can Go From Good to Great.”