How your business can function like a football team

Crisp fall days, the roar of the crowd, the smell of barbecues in the parking lot. If you don’t already know, I’m a football fanatic. I love the game, from my days playing in high school to watching my favorite teams, training and watching my two sons, I love all things soccer.

So it’s no wonder you see so many similarities between the way a great football team works and a great business. Soccer is the best team game, and successful companies are not successful without great teamwork. Let’s look at five ways you can make your business run like the most successful football teams.

No football team, whether college or professional, gets anywhere on the field without first putting together a roster of top talent. Isaac Cheifetz, in “NFL Hiring Secrets,” points out that on every NFL football team, management needs to know what the “true requirements” of each position are. Usually it involves a variety of skills and behaviors. For example, a quarterback must have great composition, awareness, and be calm under pressure. Likewise, in the business world, a star salesperson must have great tenacity, communication skills, and professionalism.

Let’s compare how the top college and professional football teams select talent for their roster with how your company selects its talent. Professional soccer teams, especially, subject their potential employees to extensive analysis and measurement in every way. They don’t just measure physical attributes or experience, they spend hours upon hours interviewing candidates, their former coaches, teammates, and others with relevant information about their past behavior and performance.

How much time do you spend recruiting new employees for your business? I’m sure he’s interviewing and checking qualifications. But is he really digging into what makes them better or worse than other candidates? How long are your interviews? What assessment tools do you use to confirm your interview findings? How do you measure the appropriateness to your culture and environment?

Several years ago, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a study on the habits of most hiring managers. They found that in the vast majority, over 65%, hiring decisions occurred within the first 4.3 minutes of an interview. They also found that only 11% of these hires lasted more than 6 months in the company. It’s not a great track record.

Soccer is the best game of teamwork. No other game I’ve played before has relied so heavily on every player on the field. Each one has to play their part exceptionally to be successful. Not even the most physically gifted running back or quarterback can do well with an offensive line that wipes out too many plays, or just doesn’t feel like working today.

I have been lucky enough to be able to coach youth soccer for many years, starting with kids as young as eight. It never fails that after the first game, the two or three players who actually moved the ball into the end zone for a touchdown immediately feel like they suddenly did it all themselves. That doesn’t work very well on my teams and they soon realize they didn’t come alone. Touchdowns happen because of eleven men on the field (twelve if you play Canadian football).

How similar are our businesses? Do the salespeople who close the big sales really come alone? What about the great work done by marketing, or the outstanding customer service representatives? And don’t forget the production departments or engineers who create and produce the quality materials that generate great word of mouth for the sales team.

The best soccer teams are those that have a lot of depth in their key positions. When a star player gets hurt or traded, he has top-notch talent ready to step up and take his turn to be the hero.

A great example of this is the NFL’s Houston Texans. During the 2011 season, they had to deal with a season-ending injury to their All-Pro quarterback. This was bad, but they were lucky to have an extremely capable second-string quarterback with a lot of talent and command of his offense. Three-quarters of the way into the next game, the second-row quarterback also missed due to a season-ending injury. However, due to tremendous foresight from team management, the Texans drafted a rookie quarterback who was ideally suited to run the team’s offense and were able to not only make the playoffs for the first time, but also win Game 1. of franchise playoffs. .

Your company must also look forward to who will be able to move up and play key roles within your organization. Hopefully, you won’t lose anyone to injury, but what about retirement, health issues, turnover, and other changes? You can do a better job of determining what talents and skills your current employees have and how they will be used in the future. Establish mentoring programs that transfer the knowledge and experience of your key players to those who have the raw material for future success.

Strong leadership is a vital part of any successful soccer team. Every successful team has several key “field generals” who keep the team moving in the right direction. In fact, football teams always have half a dozen or more captains who act as leaders on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. When I think of leaders on the football field, I think of Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis, Dan Marino, Mike Singletary and Warren Moon. Each of these players not only led during games, but were noted for inspiring their teammates to practice more, study harder, and give it their all in every situation. But never, nobody surpassed them. They always led by example.

Your managers and supervisors are the captains of your business. How committed are they to the success and long-term future of their business? In fact, there are no other positions in your company that affect the retention and development of high-performing employees more than managers and supervisors. People leave people, not companies, and your internal leaders are key to attracting and retaining the kind of employees you need. As we talked about recruiting earlier, even the best recruiting efforts will be destroyed by poor leadership.

Which brings us to our last point. Outstanding soccer teams have powerful coaches and are constantly teaching and learning. The unexpected success of this year’s Super Bowl champion New York Giants shouldn’t be as surprising as it seems. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is one of the game’s consummate masters. He is known as someone who is completely dedicated to his players, helping them learn and develop their skills to the fullest.

How interested are we in our employees as business owners or executives? Are we consumed with trying to help them improve their skill and ability or just going through the motions? Our key players will know. They will know if we are truly committed to helping them learn and develop their talents for their sake and the sake of the business. Great coaches understand that it has to contain elements of both. Great leaders and managers seek a win/win approach to learning and development.

Just like soccer, business is a team sport. The goal is to do more together than we could on our own and harness the talents of employees for the benefit of customers, owners and shareholders alike. And just like in football, when a team meets in the boardroom it all becomes more fun. Hard work, long hours, pain and suffering become a pleasurable experience in the field with a group you have bonded with and enjoy being with. Wouldn’t it be great if every day at work was like this too?

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