Keep Your Eye on the Lane

When Michael Phelps went for gold in the 200m butterfly at the 2016 Rio Olympics, we were all cheering and yelling at the TV. If you are like me, you watch with one eye on the imaginary “record line” and the other on the clock.

As a swim parent, this is a familiar posture to me. I spend a lot of time cheering, encouraging, and watching the clock. If I am not careful, I can spend too much time watching that clock and put too much emphasis on the outcome.

Do not get me wrong, swimming is about speed and getting faster; however, getting to that new personal record requires emphasis on techniques. As an engaged parent, I cannot simply say, “Try harder,” or “Swim faster.” I must be able to observe the dives, the strokes, the turns, and the touches. I must then be able to translate my observations into actionable steps that lead to improvement.

The pathway to continual improvement starts with keeping my eye on the lane, not the clock. That is, I must observe the effort and use that knowledge to help my swimmer be her best.

In the workplace, we have the same challenge.

Every leader that wants to see continual improvement in their organization will develop key performance indicators. These KPIs are our “clocks.” We use them to measure our teams’ ability to execute routine tasks, new initiatives, projects, etc. KPIs are essential to ensure we are operating at the required level and to aid us in attaining the level we desire to reach.

Like the previous scenario, we must recognize the pitfall of simply watching the clock or making assessments with only the final score in hand, e.g. budget, deadlines, etc.

To be an engaged leader, we cannot simply say, “Try harder,” or “Work smarter.” We must have those firsthand observations that can be translated into actionable items. To be an encouraging leader, we must recognize those efforts along the way and voice approval that motivates. To be a concerned leader, we must examine missteps and share supportive feedback.

The road to building high functioning and effective teams starts with keeping our eye on the lane, not the clock. That is, we must observe the effort and use that knowledge to help our teams be their best.

Until next time…we are Advoco, make every minute count.

About Tim: Tim Latta is a Technical Solutions Architect for Advoco. He has been with Advoco for eight years, but has been building EAM solutions since 1996. Tim enjoys dreaming up big ideas, working through the details, and mentoring others along the way. When Tim isn’t helping our clients maximize their Infor EAM system, he’s with his family or out on a run. Tim is Advoco’s resident running enthusiast – you can catch him on the Swamp Rabbit Trail during lunch and encouraging the Advoco team to sign up for road races together. Have a question for Tim? Send him an email!


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