If you have read my blog you are aware that I am a recreational runner. I do it because it’s always a challenge, and I like challenges, and it affords me the flexibility in my diet. Ok, it affords me the ability to eat candy. I love candy.
This past weekend my husband and I ran our second half marathon in 30 days. The challenge was to see if our summer training could result in two decent races in a relatively short time. We did well, in fact I had my best time to date in a half marathon race. We both timed ourselves with GPS systems. We don’t run together because his pace is too quick for me. So, my goal was to run 21.1km in 2:15. This is my third half marathon, ever, and my watch, which I forgot to turn off until I got my medal read 2:15:42 which meant that I likely hit the 2:15 when I crossed the finish line. I even finished ahead of the pace bunny. I felt good, and proud and gratified for knowing that I could do it and then having accomplished it. When you are running a long distance and you are trying to better your time, seconds and minutes count. Really count.
The race results were posted later that evening and our listed times were 2-3 minutes more than what we had clocked. I was instantly defeated to hear 2:16:42. What? And my joy and pride of meeting my goal of 2:15 was gone…evaporated. Just like that, I lost.
I run, I like candy and I’m relentless. So I emailed the Race Director and the Results folks and discovered that there was an overall issue with the timings and it is suspected that all times were out approximately 2-3 minutes. Which means my time may be something like 2:14:42. Victorious again, justified and right. Good looked like 2:15 and I was back on track.
This situation is no different that how you manage your teams. If you don’t have a goal or expectation of ‘what good looks like’ then how can you celebrate a success or question an anomaly? How is your team going to know if they are hitting the mark or slightly off and is your environment one where they will question a 2-3 minute gap? It should be and you should encourage it. The Race Director validated my discontent by saying “I don’t blame you. I would feel the same way.”
If you want to lead a high performing team; show them what good looks like, help them understand their role in ‘the good’ and then encourage them to hit the mark and investigate when they don’t. And then, celebrate when they do. It matters as much as that 2-3 minutes mattered to me. I worked hard for that time and I wasn’t about to just let it slip away.
That’s what you want from your team, a diligence to do well and a focus on what matters. And its up to you to validate them, coach them and be an example of good. You are the one that will model the positive and optimistic approach. Now, go be contagious, in a good way.