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Helmets, shoulder pads, cleats and turf. It’s football season again. One of my favorite times of the year.  I get to spend many hours a week at practice, watching my boys run drills on the field, hit and be hit and answer, “yes, coach!”

I wondered what it would be like if our work teams were more like our sports teams.  I think there are advantages and definitely worth taking a closer look.

Touchdown!  The Home Field Advantage

Practice makes perfect.  On the field, drills are called out and the team follows. If someone cuts a cone or doesn’t cross the line and complete the drill, it’s push-up time.  “Give me 10!” the coach yells to the offending player.  Players follow instructions and rarely is there a smart mouth saying, “no, coach, I’m not doing that.” Regular practice helps a team work together.  They learn about weakness and strength and how to fill those gaps.  Players understand each other.  They work together to ensure the plays lead to a successful game.  Teammates communicate and anticipate next moves.  Those that fall in line, help move the team forward.  Those that don’t are quickly provided with real-time performance improvement measures. Or, they quit.


What’s “practice” like at your company? Have you taken a look at your performance management system lately?  If not, or you think you may need an upgrade, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your “coaches” well-equipped to manage teams? (remember, just because they manage a team, doesn’t mean they have the “know-how” to manage people.)  
  • You may not be out on a field in helmets and pads, but are you engaging in regular team conversations and learning team dynamics?
  • Does your team know what the goal is and how to score a touchdown?
  • Do they realize how their individual contributions help move them down the field to the goal line?
  • Does the team have the ability to take measures of risk to help drive the team to a successful finish?

I’m not saying that all teams need to look alike, play the same, or have the same ideas.  If that were the case, teams would suffer from “in-the-box-thinking” and creativity would lag.  We need a diverse group of teammates to be successful.  However, if we understand our place on the team and what it takes to score that winning point, we’ll be better communicators, hold each other accountable, and work to resolve our differences through collaboration, rather than “tackling” our colleagues.