3 Management Lessons From Pro Sports
BY Jon Morris
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said that running a football team is no different than running a business. Here's why.
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, "Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization--an army, a political party, or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win--to beat the other guy."
But how do you grab more market share and rise above your competitors? You need an edge, and that edge is a high-quality team. So as I build my all-star team, I look to the professional sports industry to see how they improve and develop their teams. Here are my three takeaways:
1. Recruit Differently
Historically, baseball recruiters relied on instinct to make draft choices. Now, they use statisticians to analyze data to determine how individuals will perform. Take the Oakland Athletics' Billy Beane (featured in the movie Moneyball) for example. Instead of relying on his gut instinct, he focused on a new statistical model, sabermetrics, to improve the team's draft strategy and to recruit overlooked talent. As a result, Beane led the Oakland A's to the playoffs in four consecutive years from 2000 through 2003.
Beane didn't stop there. Later, he began focusing on defensive skills and recruiting high school players in the MLB draft--another recruitment strategy which was atypical among his peers. His new approach led them to the playoffs again in 2012, winning the American League West title.
Business owners should understand how their competitors recruit employees, and then craft a strategy that recruits individuals with undervalued skill sets.
2. Manage Your Roster
Sports teams have specific coaches that are dedicated to making groups better (quarterback coach, lineman coach, etc.). Also, owners and coaches review years of video footage from different seasons and evaluate how each player ranks against other athletes for specific tasks. In the NFL, players take part in a six-week training camp, packed with practice drills, routines, weight training and scrimmages to evaluate players and to get them ready for the season.
Now imagine how much stronger your company's staff would be if your management team invested the same level of training as the NFL.
Business owners should enhance their review process. Invest more resources into ongoing professional training sessions and regular performance evaluations to ensure current employees can track their performance and to identify new and untapped skills that can benefit the company.
3. Admit When You've Made a Mistake
Pro sports team owners are constantly evaluating their rosters and are never afraid to make a tough decision. For instance, owners and coaches develop a plan to upgrade their teams or to make a trade every off-season. Even after winning the 2011 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks shuffled their lineup, losing several key players and adding new players like Lamar Odom. However, Odom failed to perform well on the court and was later let go from the team.
Whether it's a bad play on the court or an unsuccessful business deal, everyone has made a decision that they regret. Admitting that you've made a wrong move takes a lot of courage but it can save your business in the long run. Making a hiring mistake is inevitable, so business owners need to recognize their hiring mistakes early and replace the talent with a stronger "player" or a person who is a better fit within the company's culture. If not, a company will retain underperforming talent.
Secondly, if companies have fully-developed succession plans and recruitment strategies, they have a sustainable advantage. So even if managers lose a team member, their next rising star is waiting in their talent pipeline or within the company.