If you were looking for an effective way to overcome certain hurdles and manage your employees better, you must probably try mental contrasting. Mental contrasting is a problem solving strategy that was introduced by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen. This also doubles up as a motivation tool and you could teach it to your employees so that they can solve problems & achieve stated goals.
In order to fully understand mental contrasting, you need to understand that it is a recognized form of psychological techniques. It helps in focusing on realistic goals and avoid unrealistic goals, which lead us to waste our resources unnecessarily. Mental contrasting can be understood as a method of behavior modification, which has several effects on cognition, emotion and motivation level.
The technique helps in assessing the future and the existing reality & come up with strategic steps that would lead you to a certain problem-oriented or goal-oriented behavior. This helps in removing unnecessary goals and expectations from life, thereby, freeing up space for realistic management goals. While mental contrasting was not used in management initially and primarily, was a behavior modification tool, it is increasingly being used at workplaces.
How does mental contrasting work?
You need to first fantasize a wished future. For example, if you want to study in a particular university, you would be asked to imagine what it would be like and when the university admission really happens. This helps to envision the future in a way that is only possible for the client. Secondly, you would be asked to mentally look at all the realities and hurdles, which are standing in the way of the desired goal.
This might include stating your academic grades and financial conditions as hurdles. If you have high expectations, you have a tendency to increase effort, which ultimately leads to success. If you have low expectations, it does not lead to success. Low expectations do not necessarily mean that you are useless. It helps you to realize that certain goals and ambitions are unrealistic & you can free that space.
For instance, if you envision being in Harvard with a GPA of 3.0, you needto realize that you neither have the grade nor the academic qualification to seek scholarships. By realizing this reality, you will focus on applying to a community college, instead of wasting your time dreaming about Harvard.
How does this help you to manage your employees?
Mental contrasting can be a powerful tool to teach and manage employees. You can imagine the future you want for each employee and try the exercise yourself within your cabin. If your secretary does not really match with your envisioned future and seems to be the hurdle, you could replace him or her with someone else.
If you imagine one of your employees as a potential partner, you could assess the same with current realities and motivate yourself to give the employee more tasks, which if he or she is actually capable, will be able to finish. This will help you to promote that employee or probably even take him or her as a partner for a future project.
Similarly, you can teach this technique to your employees so that they can overcome their own obstacles and be a part of an organization as an efficient & productive entity. By imagining an ideal future and comparing it with existing realities, you will be able to focus on what is realistic and doable. This way, you will avoid the pitfalls of unrealistic ambitions.
There are many psychological techniques such as mental contrasting, which help you to manage your employees better. Mental contrasting stands apart because of its ability to help you envision an ideal future and then, compare it with existing hurdles & obstacles.
If you are really motivated, you will be able to overcome these hurdles. If you have low expectations, then it is better to switch over to a different goal that is more easily accessible. Ultimately, this will help you to build a better company and better work culture.