As a way to inspire students to pursue sports at a higher level — or more importantly, to help them believe that they can — Plano (IL) High School has a prominent display of athletes who are competing at the “next level.” Their gym hallway features two displays: a board listing the names, college, and sport of all recent collegiate athletes, and larger photos showing the same information for those who received a Division 1 scholarship to play.

It’s an impressive list, especially for a school of only about 700 students, and I’m sure it serves as an aspirational goal for many who would otherwise think their small-town background made D1 sports unattainable. And, of course, the quest to add one’s name to that recognition makes them better at their sport while at Plano — a win-win for all.

It’s one thing to say that people in your organization move up the ladder or go on to do amazing things but it helps others fulfill that aspiration when you make it real for everyone. Think of how you can visually acknowledge the achievements of people who are doing the kind of “next level” work that you desire. A plaque of front-line workers who became team leads? A display of all the interns who accepted full-time positions? Former volunteers who later joined the staff? Assistant managers who went on to run their own store elsewhere? Your sous chefs who earned their own kitchen?

Employees are inherently thinking of their next move; help inspire them to think in the direction you desire by subliminally creating a vision to shape their aspirations.

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