Are You Challenging Your Winners?

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    A few days ago, I attended a track meet for 4th and 5th graders. After standing for several hours in the 80-degree sunshine that afternoon, I with a group of fifteen other family members cheered on a 4th grade track runner. During the first few laps of the boys’ 1600 meter (yes that’s one mile for 4th graders) race, the 4th grader ran at a comfortable pace taking up the third place spot. Then during the final meters of the race, he found the extra energy to take first in the final second of the race. Immediately after crossing the finish line, he raised his hands in victory with an expression of great pride while sixteen members of his family stood on the sidelines cheering, laughing, and even crying. He was immediately greeted with hugs, smiles, and high-fives as he exited the track. He received immediate positive feedback for a job well done.

    Just an hour earlier, the 4th-grade girls’ 1600-meter race took place with a little different outcome. Four girls started the race and within minutes one girl took a clear lead. Within the first 400 meters of the race, the 4th place runner was a clear 200 meters behind the 1st place runner with the 2nd and 3rd place runners side by side in the middle of the two girls. There was no exciting finish to this race and the observers didn’t see the winner raise her hands in victory at the end. What was seen however was clear support for the last-placed runner, who never gave up running even though she was clearly 300 meters behind the other runners. As soon as she came off the track, she was given immediate positive feedback for her perseverance and effort in the race.

    What was most interesting about the winners of these two races is that the winner of the boys’ race achieved his personal best time that day. The girl’s winner was several seconds over her best time.

    The bottom line here is this. Winners gravitate toward winners. They challenge each other and they push each other to give a little extra at the finish line. When winners lack a challenge, they glide through the race. How are you challenging your winners? Do you know the potential of the members of your team?

    Your thoughts are always encouraged.


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    Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. She is currently employed as the Human Resource Manager at EmployeeScreenIQ, a global leader in pre-employment background screening.