Exactly 101 days ago, I was challenged with my colleagues to walk one million steps in 100 days. Our HR department divided us in teams and provided us with fitness trackers to tally our steps. The goal was not only to walk one million steps in 100 days, but to walk the highest number of steps as a team.
When I started this challenge, I had no idea how much this challenge would affect my behavior. Below are three management lessons I learned as I observed changes in my own behavior.
Lesson 1: Set benchmark expectations and acknowledge when expectations are met.
The goal of this wellness challenge is for each individual to walk one million steps in 100 days. The benchmark that must be met is 10,000 steps per day. When I first heard the goal was to reach one million steps, I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t feel this was a manageable task until I realized I just needed to focus on reaching 10,000 steps daily. When I reach 10,000 steps in a day, the fitness tracker vibrates on my wrist. Without fail, this always brings a smile to my face because it means I met my goal. When it’s late at night and I haven’t met my goal, I’ll pace around my house until I reach 10,000 steps.
When you set goals for your team, break down the goals into manageable benchmarks. When benchmarks are met, acknowledge the achievement. Don’t wait to acknowledge the work of your team once they reach the ultimate goal. If you wait, you’ll miss out on opportunities to reward, excite, and motivate your team.
Lesson 2: Be transparent and hold your team accountable.
When I log on the computer to check my step count, I can also see the step counts of every other member of my team. Because I know my teammates can clearly see if I meet my daily goal of 10,000 steps, I am more inclined to wake up early to exercise, use part of my lunch break to go for a walk, or park unusually far away from the store when I go shopping just so I can get in a few extra steps. I knew from the beginning that my team would be able to see how many steps I take each day, and this motivates me to go the extra mile (pun intended).
Set clear goals for each individual you manage, and hold team members accountable to you the manager and to the team. Accountability could come in the form of team members submitting a short weekly report with what they accomplished this week and what they hope to accomplish next week. However, as the manager, you need to approach this with the spirit of unity and not of competition. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find this becomes a competition among teammates for the “prize” of most busy team member.
Lesson 3: Encourage don’t deride.
Each week when our HR department sends out the team rankings, someone on my team will inevitably send an email with words of encouragement. On the rare weeks we’ve ended up in second place, instead of calling out those who didn’t do due diligence in getting the adequate number of steps, suggestions are provided to the entire team of ways we could each try and get more steps the next week.
There will be weeks when those you manage fail to meet expectations. Life happens. Don’t dwell on what they’re not doing. Congratulate them on what they were able to accomplish and provide suggestions to the entire team on ways to more fully achieve the goals of the team.
Even though I was leary at first, I exceeded the goal of one million steps and tomorrow find out if our team won the challenge.