Humans like to win. Most of us experience a sense of joy or even elation when we feel we are winning (or when we are part of a winning team) and a sense of grief and sorrow when we lose (just ask those of us who are Seahawks fans).
The research shows that when we are winning, we feel better about our lives in general. Winners are able to overcome obstacles easier and are less likely to give up when faced with a problem. In sports, winning teams generate more revenue, attract better talent, and have more fun in their days, and this is true in business as well.
How do you know if you are winning? Unfortunately, most of us don’t have a scoreboard in our homes or offices that indicates whether or not we’re winning. In fact many people would say that they have the opposite—someone who harps on all the ways they are losing.
The reason most of us don’t know whether or not we are winning is because most of us aren’t tracking our progress down the field. To know whether or not you are winning, you must measure your progress toward your goals. That’s the secret.
We know that companies measure many things (metrics), but often those metrics are actually measuring the score at the end of the game, not the progress down the field. So, if you have a work goal to hit 10,000 units by the end of the year, break that into measurable amounts that you can work with each month or—even better—each week. The goal is to find ways to get people excited about the first 500 units versus having them feel like failures because they haven’t hit 10,000 units yet. With outcomes-only metrics, people report feeling burdened all year long versus excited to be making progress toward their goals. Good leaders find ways to help their teams feel like they are winning at work.
This week take some time to think about how you can measure the success you want your team to achieve and then break it into smaller chunks that your team can actually succeed at meeting. Create a scoreboard to show them the month’s goal and celebrate the success of those goals, or if you don’t hit your goals then regroup and try another approach. Engagement means that people care whether or not they are winning the game and that they are doing everything in their power to do so.