It's common sense that how well a company performs directly correlates with the quality of its employees. But there's a particular trait hiring managers should be looking for when evaluating a job candidate's merits: Athleticism. That's according to Lisa Strasman, president of NCSA, an athletic recruiting network which uses big data, predictive analytics and high-level data science to match high school student athletes with college coaches. Here are her words on why athletes make the best employees.

1. They persevere.

When the team is down at halftime, competitive athletes dig deep and find a way to win. When they struggle with performance, athletes will dedicate extra time to practice until they improve. Athletes are innately ingrained with determination to achieve their goals. When they transition from the court to the boardroom, athletes take on corporate challenges with the same persistence. In the workplace, the best employees never give up and always find a way to overcome obstacles. Corporate athletes are relentless in their pursuit of success.

2. They excel at time management.

From a young age athletes learn to handle a number of priorities, including school, sports, and social activities. From balancing rigorous practice schedules, classes, homework, tournaments and travel, they are pros at time management and prioritization. This skill is essential for high productivity in the workplace and a great timesaver for managers who no longer have to check in or follow up on every task. Top employees are able to manage their days efficiently to meet deadlines and exceed expectations.

3. They learn from failures.

Nobody likes to lose, but in sports someone always does. Athletes are familiar with the bitter taste of defeat. It's taught them to learn from failure, understand where to improve, and move on. Athletes often will channel setbacks to fuel future performance. Similarly, in the workplace employees regularly face setbacks. Great employees take the time to reflect on what went wrong, regroup, and apply their learnings moving forward. They display the mental toughness to remain poised and confident despite adversity.

4. They are accountable. 

One of the first things you learn as an athlete is that every member of a team plays a distinct role, and each player must do their part for the team to win. When a play breaks down an athlete will own it, look their teammates and coaches in the eye and say, "my bad." They do not look around the locker room for others to blame. Athletes take responsibility for their mistakes and commit to better performance in the future. In corporate settings, this trait is key to building a healthy team culture. Inserting athletes into the company mix often helps diminish the politics and finger-pointing to create a more positive environment of accountability.

5. They put the team first. 

Athletes understand that team goals always trump individual needs. Being part of a team means a serious commitment to the group. Personal sacrifices come with the territory whether it's giving up weekends for practice or maintaining a strict training diet. When athletes enter the work place they carry that same sense of commitment with them. They will stay late to help a co-worker meet a deadline, or lend a resource to another department if doing so benefits the greater good of the organization. It's a behavior that's infectious and when employees can all rally around company goals above personal objectives, organizations thrive.  

6. They are students of the game.

There's an old saying many athletes know by heart, "Don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong." Athletes constantly strive to improve. They willingly spend nights watching game film and studying plays. They read books, attend camps and clinics, and pursue any knowledge that may help them improve their game. Top employees share this trait. They constantly seek ways to learn more about their role, company and industry to raise their value to the organization. 

7. They can handle criticism.

You won't get very far in sports or in business, without being coachable.  Athletes are used to direct and often blunt feedback. They can handle private and public criticism, and do not let it deflate them or impact their attitude. They don't overthink criticism or get defensive. Instead, they take constructive feedback and often apply it immediately. It's a very similar trait you'll find in top performers in the business world. Managers know they can provide direct and honest feedback to athletes without worrying about hurting feelings, or losing productivity for the afternoon. Furthermore, athletes respond well to praise often using it to motivate their continued growth. In short, everyone wins. 

Published on: Nov 22, 2017