Think hope has no place in goal setting? Think again.

Goal setting in the Pharmacy can be hard. With so many conflicting priorities, sometimes you just ‘hope’ that when you get to the end of the day that you have achieved what you need to. What about if you could tap into that hope to motivate you and your team?

Charles Richard Snyder was an American Psychologist who formed a theory called ‘Snyder’s Hope Theory.’ When looking at the definition of hope, it can be thought of as believing what you want to achieve is possible, or, that there might be a way to get from where you are now to something you want in the future. This ‘hope’ helps people stay motivated.

Snyder surmised that there are at least three components that people can relate to hope, these include needing to have focussed thoughts, developing strategies in advance to achieve goals and being motivated to make the effort required to reach them. In other words, hope included goals, paths and freedom of choice.

Basically, the more an individual believes in their own ability to influence and achieve these three components, the greater chance they will develop a feeling of hope, and, the greater motivation there will be to keep striving for the future.

When we look at the power of effective goal setting, Snyder’s Hope Theory can be really helpful in ensuring that we’re playing to our strengths as humans. To explain this further, Snyder identified that much of human behaviour is goal-oriented. With this being so, he also identified another two important components that influence movement towards a goal, pathways thinking and agency thinking.

Finally, Snyder also stated that the goals themselves need to be valuable. These were described as the anchors of his theory. Inevitably, he also explained that there are likely to be barriers to achieving goals. Barriers can cause people to quit, however, he stated if we can build people’s pathway thinking ability they will become more able to create a new pathway. The more people can identify these new pathways, the more agency thinking is reactivated, making it again possible to reach the goal. To flip this, if people are unable to create different pathways to the goal, their motivation dwindles and people quit.

In my opinion, Snyder’s Hope Theory sits beautifully alongside the concept of reverse engineering goals. It encourages us to pose questions that can help develop both pathways and agency thinking. They encourage us to dig deep, find ground zero and consider all the checkpoints and barriers that will occur.

Finally, Snyder said that reaching goals will happen more easily if emotions are positive. Our words and our actions matter. Barriers may lead to negative emotions, that’s why it’s important to look at multiple pathways to achieve the end goal. It’s unlikely that one pathway, on its own, will be the answer. This is okay and it’s important to share this with the team.

To further create positive emotions surrounding the goal, be conscious of the emotionally intelligent leadership skills you use. Pace-setting, coercive and authoritative leadership alone will likely foster fear, rebellion or disengagement. Coaching, democratic and affiliative leadership will likely foster greater psychological safety and encourage staff to stay motivated and engaged when the going gets tough. To expand on this more, the coaching leadership style will seek staff to dig a little deeper, push the boundaries and maybe even try something new. Democratic leadership will involve them in the process of identifying the possible pathways to the goal and also increase their agency to act on the pathways planned. Affiliative leadership can help explore people’s hesitancies and also find areas of strength to use and help staff engage with what is trying to be achieved.

Remember, together is always better.

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