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Set them and celebrate them
The ancient Romans used local stone to set up milestones along their roads as they built them. This allowed travelers to know that they were making progress on their journeys.
At the center of Rome, they even had a “golden milestone” marking the end of the trip home.
As modern leaders, we don’t need to go this literal, but we can help our people stay motivated by setting milestones to assess progress, and using those milestones to give our people a sense of accomplishment and/or a sense of making progress. This helps people keep up their morale, especially on those seemingly endless projects that stretch out over time. These milestones give us an opportunity to give positive feedback and/or other validations—and if the milestone is not met, it gives us a heads-up about a potential issue before it becomes a crisis.
Don’t wait until the end of a long-term project to assess people’s efforts.