The NFL is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world. According to research released by the Nielsen Company, more than 114.4 million people tuned into the most recent Super Bowl to see the New England Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks. While all eyes were on the players, behind the scenes it was the coaches that were calling the shots, setting the strategy, and experiencing the culmination of years of hard work. As a business owner, you may not regularly compare yourself to a top NFL coach, but there are strong parallels between the two roles. Here's a closer look at what business leaders can learn from how NFL coaches build, motivate, and manage their teams.
1. Recruit the Top Talent
Finding the right talent is at the heart of NFL success. Teams have scouts that are constantly on the lookout for world-class talent in high school, college, and beyond. The League's annual recruiting event – The Draft – is a major sporting occasion in and of itself. A well-developed recruiting program and the expertise to execute it are essential for teams to score wins season after season.
Businesses require top talent to win the best customers, provide industry-leading service to clients, and dramatically grow revenues and profits. As a business owner, it's important that you develop an effective recruiting process and get the right technology platforms in place to support it. The right HR partner can help design and implement a recruiting process and software solution that's right for your company's specific needs.
2. Know your Key Stats
The NFL measures practically everything. Knowing the key statistics associated with each player, each game, and each team helps provide an actionable baseline for setting goals, measuring progress, and developing training and coaching plans that work.
The same kind of data-driven decision-making can help make any business process a success. Today's technology tools such as cutting-edge recruiting systems, time and attendance solutions, and integrated human resources information management systems provide instant insights into every area of the business. Managers are able to quickly and easily access the necessary information through a single interface to make their most critical decisions.
3. Hire Experts for Specialized Jobs
A winning coach understands what his or her top responsibilities are: coaching a team to victory. There are numerous elements that play into that, far too many for one person to individually oversee. By hiring experts for positions from assistant coaches to strength training coaches to equipment managers, the success of each individual element is assured. This frees up the head coach to focus on bringing together the big picture needed for a win.
Business owners must manage a wide variety of functional areas, from client management and human resources to marketing and operations. Bringing in experts to fulfill these areas gives you confidence that everything is getting done and enables you to get the best advice when you need to make a tough decision.
4. Study your Competition
Each week, coaches are reviewing a tremendous amount of information. Not only are they reviewing detailed videos and reports of their own players, but they're equally familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the competition. Studying the competition helps refine everything from individual plays to the overall strategy the coach is building for a specific game.
Businesses that understand the dynamics around them are likewise best positioned for success. Who are your key competitors and how are they performing in the market? What's happening with their brands, products, and services? Are they doing well and attracting key talent? By exploiting your knowledge of competitors' performance, you'll be prepared to grow with the market.
5. Motivational Speeches Aren't Just for Locker Rooms
No movie that features the NFL can skip the opportunity to showcase a motivational speech by the coach in the locker room, and for good reason. Keeping a team of professional athletes focused, on task, and winning week after week requires a tremendous ability to motivate.
Small business leaders can get more from their teams by employing the same approach. Help your team understand your big vision for the business, and spend time making sure that each individual contributor understands his or her role. Transparency, leadership, and guidance can help rally your employees to extraordinary performance.
6. Fire Underperformers
There's no room on a winning team for non-performers. The NFL puts this theory into practice by eliminating players that aren't carrying their weight or playing up to the game's high professional standards. It's not personal; it's business.
Many business leaders wait too long to take action on underperforming employees. Having a solid HR system in place ensures that employees are being given clear guidelines on success.
7. Build On your Branding
Rabid fans are the lifeblood of the NFL brand. Every Sunday throughout the fall and winter, fans around the country spend long days in stadiums or watching games at home. They're an essential part of growing the brand and keeping the NFL motivated to keep delivering.
For small businesses, the same approach can be taken to help turn customers into strong advocates of your brand. By performing to the highest standard and maintaining great customer communications, you'll be laying the foundation for sustainable business success.