How to Treat Your Team Like They’re in the NFL

Football is back! I might not know all the rules, but I love watching the passion, the intensity, and the incredible athleticism of all the players. Football is certainly a brute sport, but it’s also one of strategy.

I had a boss who the only thing we would talk about was sports, and occasionally musical theater. He would tell me, “Elizabeth, I need you to treat every day like it’s the Super Bowl. We should all bring our A game to every meeting.” Ever since then, I’ve changed my mentality to approach my work like any other sport. Because sports are fun, guys!

Here’s how I like to infuse sports in my work and my team:

  • Practice, practice, practice. The only way to perform well when it counts is to have a solid plan in process. Having good processes that everyone adheres to reduces the risk for fumbles and creates consistency within your product and/or service. When a big opportunity arises, your team will know exactly how to handle it because they practiced on lower stakes.
  • Let there be (friendly) competition. I’m definitely not saying a boss should pit teammates against each other, but encourage your team to always elevate their game. Have one great idea? Can anyone find a way to make it even better? When you allow your team space to explore various solutions, ideas turn into fresh innovations that are never stale.
  • Work as a real team. A good quarterback lays out the strategy and gives clear direction in order for his team to complete a successful play. Within the team, find out what each person’s strengths are and how they can fill a need within your team. In order for this to work, it’s important to know exactly where there are weaknesses. Is there a person who executes well, but has difficulty dealing with other departments or stakeholders? Find another person on the team who has better communication skills who can take on the relationship building. At the end of the day, you are all on the same team and in the same boat. Work together so you don’t sink.img_6057
  • Celebrate the wins. Winning is the best feeling — so celebrate it! Acknowledge when someone has done something great (or even good). People like being recognized for a job well done and will continue to aim to please if they are being commended for it. People who feel valued are also much more likely to want to stay on the team. If everyone feels good about themselves and the work they are doing, you’re going to have one hell of a productive team.
  • Give your team a good pep talk after a loss. We all know that losing sucks and failures are inevitable. But, like every great team, there is always an opportunity to make a comeback after a good pep talk from the coach. Keeping up morale (see bullet point above) when spirits are down is the easiest and fastest way to get back to doing great work. When everyone has taken a moment to process, figure out what went wrong and adjust accordingly.

Working on a team that gels together and can find its groove is one of the best feelings you can get at a company. Create a cohesive unit that supports one another and you will all be ready to work like it’s the Super Bowl every day.

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