Google is known for studying, measuring, and systematizing just about every facet of leadership--what makes the best leaders, the best teams, and even the best email productivity. You can add to all of this a simple, popular tool that the most emotionally intelligent Googlers (and outsiders who have discovered it) use.

I've used it for years without even knowing that the idea originated at Google. It's called One Simple Thing, and it's an amazingly powerful goal setting practice.

As a leader, ask your employees to write down a personal goal of theirs with only one catch--it can't be about work. It's about encouraging them to set a goal that will measurably contribute to their personal well-being. You then commit to helping them achieve that goal, checking in regularly and holding them accountable for it along with their other work-related personal goals.

Google provided a few examples of some One Simple Thing goals on their re:Work site:

  • "I will take a one-hour break three times a week to work out."
  • "I will leave the office by 5 p.m. twice per week to be able to play with my daughter before bed."
  • "I will not read emails on the weekends."
  • "I will disconnect on a one-week vacation this quarter."

The employees should come up with their own goal and a time frame within which to achieve it, and should be encouraged to share the goal with family and friends to further drive accountability.  

Why asking employees to set a well-being goal is brilliant.

I used to do this and soon discovered that employees found it valuable, uplifting, and, sadly, unusual that a boss would so visibly show care and concern for their well-being, and be willing to invest in it.

You can use a simple template that Google provides to set a One Simple Thing goal with your employees. It works first and foremost because the employees write down the goal, and research is clear on the importance of writing down a goal for ultimately achieving it.

It also works because the employees have to commit to a timeframe to achieve it and are encouraged to share it. With you (as their boss) and the friends, family, and co-workers they might share their One Simple Thing with, a strong support network is formed for them to make the goal a reality.

I've supplement this goal-setting practice with something I call P:60 (short for a personal 60 seconds). At the start of team meetings, we'd go around the table and each person would take 60 seconds to share something that was going on in his or her life, outside of work. Like the One Simple Thing Goal, it demonstrated a concern for the person as a whole and leveraged the power of social sharing.

So it's simple--do this one simple thing to make a big impact on your employees' well-being.

Published on: Aug 7, 2019
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