M.I.N.M: Soccer Game
Who: David Pollard, CEO and cofounder, TalentFusion Inc.
Players: The 45 members of the company's staff in its Harrisburg, Pennsylvania headquarters
Frequency: Thursdays at 4 PM
Why I Never Miss It: "Titles mean nothing on the soccer field. I love when people are able to focus on how to win the game, not on the company hierarchy."
Competing for talent isn't a game, but the staff of TalentFusion Inc. takes to a playing field to sharpen its competitive instincts. The company, headquartered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was founded two years ago as an offline recruitment outsourcing agency and has since shifted its focus to the Web. "The reality of the online digital-recruiting world is that it's so damn competitive," says CEO and cofounder David Pollard. "We need to be more competitive than our competitors."
Enter the weekly soccer game. What began as a way to blow off steam after a stressful workweek has become a keystone to TalentFusion's company culture. "We use the game as a way to channel our energy while communicating our company vision to the staff," says Pollard, 40, who plays the position of striker. "We have almost 100% participation, and in about a year of playing, not a single voluntary resignation."
Teamwork. "The game isn't about proficiency in soccer. It's about proficiency in team building and being goal-oriented, two things that translate perfectly to our work off the field. Everyone who wants to play, plays, and we mix and match teams from week to week. And we definitely keep score. It's a big deal around here."
Pep rally. "First, we do a few minutes of warm-ups. Then, before we take the field, the captains lead their teams in a little pep rally, to get us psyched up. We talk about strategy, how we're going to win, who's going to do what — all of which is applicable to the business itself. The point is to get people thinking of the team and how to achieve concrete objectives."
Idea forum. "After we're done playing, TalentFusion's president and COO, John Laporta, conducts a follow-up meeting about client issues, company milestones and metrics, and so on. Then he opens it up for ideas. The soccer field is an environment where the barriers between people break down and where collaborative management begins. Everyone's so tired and sweaty that they're willing to tell us what they've really been thinking about. No idea is too small or too grand. We want to hear it all."
A version of this article appeared in the March 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.