The NFL kicked off last month, captivating millions of Americans, as it does every year. The NFL is more than just entertainment, however—in fact, business owners can learn valuable lessons if they pay attention. If you watch the games, you know how committed each player is to his team. They are willing to endure tremendous amounts of physical discomfort in order to get a win—and more importantly, to ensure that they get to keep their job with their team. How committed are your employees to your business? How much do they value their job with your organization? Are positions at your company always in high demand? The NFL has a thing or two to teach us about making a business into a magnet for talented and passionate employees:
1) Make your business a place where your employees can live out their passion. Virtually every NFL player is living out a lifelong dream. And while most of your employees probably didn’t dream of working for you as a child, the fact is that you have the opportunity to make your business into a place that channels the passion and ability of each employee. By creating an environment that allows all employee to express themselves, and by doing your best to assign each individual to a role that suits their personality traits, learning style and skills, your business can be a place where each employee feels like they are doing what they are "meant" to do. You don’t have to guess; there are great tools to measure fit and allow you to make great decisions with hiring as well as where you put your employees.
2) Create a true team environment. In the NFL, players are working for their teammates as well as for their coaches. Do your employees share this sense of teamwork? Are they willing to sacrifice for others, not just for themselves? You can encourage this attitude by creating functional teams in your workplace, and by evaluating success or failure on a team basis, rather than individually. You don’t have to guess with this one either! Measure your employees to see if they prefer team incentives or individual incentives, so that you ‘know’ you’re implementing the right team strategies that will engage your employees.
3) Give your employees a reason to come to work each day—beyond their paycheck. NFL players come to work each day dreaming of one day hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, awarded to the team that wins the Super Bowl each year. This desire leads to team unity and dedication—and it gives each player a reason to push himself to the limit each day. Your business may not be competing for a trophy, but you should have a purpose. Why does your company exist? What are your values? What type of impact do you want to have on your customers, your market, and your community? Create a vision statement and give your employees something to get excited about—beyond their paycheck! Learn to utilize social media tools to communicate your culture and what you care about and stand back and watch your employees immediately engage with you to communicate your story to your clients and prospects.
You may never create a workplace environment that is as exciting as playing for an NFL team, but you can create a company culture that allows your employees to fulfill their passions, come together as a team, and to have a true purpose behind their actions. The NFL has plenty to teach business owners in this regard—pay attention and turn your workplace into a magnet for top talent!
[Image: Flickr user Zruda]