Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Own the Podium

Rampant flag waving, record number of gold medals, throngs of people cheering, a share of heart wrenching disappointments, amazing stories of courage and achievement, spontaneous outbursts of Oh Canada: These are just a few of the outcomes of the recent 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

Behind it all, a program called Own the Podium. What can companies and individuals learn from this initiative?

1) The overarching goal of Own the Podium was specific and measurable: Win the most medals of any country at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Black and White. History showed that number would be between 28 - 36. Make your goals specific and measurable. When people have a clue to what is specifically expected of them .. don't be surprised if they deliver it for you. My experience is that most "podiums" are not that well defined in companies.

2) The goal was understood. Understanding doesn't just come from saying something once. Here are a couple facts that can help us be understood.

- People remember 30 percent of what they see and hear. Yes.. well educated, motivated, bright Canadians will take away on average 30 of what they see and hear. Most goal setting sessions I've ever seen in corporations were death by powerpoint followed by the question "Do you have any questions?" (Do we really think most people will have the courage to stand up in public and question the direction laid out by a management team that controls their destiny? No. Your answer will be NO 95 percent of the time and YES there are questions.. lots and lots of them.)

- People remember 90 percent of what they say and do. The best way to ensure your employee's understanding of specific goals/objectives is to ask them in a private setting to tell you what they believe their performance objectives are. Unclear objectives will pop out instantly as they struggle to tell you about them. Catching these upfront is not only beneficial to you.. its beneficial to them. You win, they win and your company wins. Just do it.

Finally the goal of Own the Podium was communicated and communicated and communicated again. So much so that you could see athletes starting to Believe it. Yes it was a well chosen theme song :O). If we truly believe we can accomplish something, we have a great chance at success. As Canadian athletes achieved much of what they believed .. they have other Canadians starting to believe in themselves as well. Flag waving, cheering, learning, singing. Okay ..except for the singing .. isn't that what we'd love for our companies?! Own YOUR podium.

David Benjatschek is a motivational trainer/speaker in the areas of Leadership & Communication. Visit for full information on David and the training available to your organization. You can email David:

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