You have to leave town but before you go, you ask one of your directs to fill in for you and lead the next team meeting. They have never led a meeting before and you can tell they are really nervous. Their anxiety is caused by a simple question; “Can I do this?”
The answer to this question is rooted in the degree of Self-Efficacy a person possesses. Self-Efficacy is the belief that you have the skills necessary to complete a task, and that you have the capacity to translate those skills into effective performance, especially under difficult circumstances. Those who have high Self-Efficacy for a certain task will usually out perform those who score low in the same area.
The opposite of efficacy is doubt. If you doubt your ability to run the meeting in place of your boss, you will most likely experience anxiety, confusion, and negative thinking. All of these states produce sub-par performance.
So in order to give your direct the best chance of performing like a super star, you need to help them increase their self-efficacy beliefs for the task at hand. But how do you do that?
Here’s how to boost a person’s performance by helping increase their self-efficacy beliefs by focusing on these three sources.
- Previous Experience
People learn their current self-efficacy from their interpretations and memories of past attempts to enact the behavior. When you remind your direct that while they may have never led any meetings for you, they have led tons of them in the past it strengthens their confidence for the task at hand. This is why reviewing your own resume is usually an uplifting experience. It reminds you of all of things you have done before and has a leavening effect on your confidence.
- Vicarious Experiences
When we see others do the same task it gives us a great boost in confidence. It ignites the “If they can do it, so can I” principle. Asking a colleague if your direct can sit in and observe how they lead their meeting will give them a boost in confidence. This concept is even more powerful when the people we watch our most like us. If you want your child to stop wearing a life jacket in the pool, but you are having a hard time convincing them to give it up, simply put them in a pool with kids their age who are not wearing life jackets. In no time at all, your child will ditch the swimming aid for good.
- Pep Talks
Pep talks help switch a performers focus from their sources of weakness, to sources of strength. By helping people see their strengths and potential, it bolsters their internal belief that they can accomplish what lies before them. Pep talks are the most powerful when they come from someone we view possessing
Pep talks can provide a temporary boost in motivation, convincing people to at least give it one more try. By helping your direct focus on what strengths they possess that will help them lead a great meeting will increase confidence.
I have used these three principles before with my own children with great success. My teenage daughter recently had to audition for a dance academy and was understandably nervous. I was ably to remind her of all of the other auditions and tryouts she had succeeded at in various sports and then helped her focus on her natural strengths she could rely in on her audition. After my mini pep talk, she said, “Thanks that actually makes me feel better”( a rare confirmation that she is listening to me).
So next time you ask one of your directs to go outside of their comfort zone, employ the three sources of self-efficacy to help give them a boost, and watch their performance take off because of it.
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