In all my years of being a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan, I can’t remember any pre-season in which the expectations were as high as they are for the upcoming regular season. And as painfully long as the recently concluded pre-season was, it has served a valid purpose for training, preparation, evaluation and ultimately finalizing the team roster.
While most businesses of course don’t have a pre-season, the autumn can serve as the perfect time to refocus your business and your entire team around some fundamental football training camp kinds of essentials.
You can get the team in shape. Are you keeping your team members’ mental blades sharp, by occasionally sending them to leadership conferences or asking them to read an illuminating book about the industry? Do you ever bring in a subject matter expert or attend a trade show to get a better sense of an important industry niche? Do you have the best possible starting lineup in place to drive results and create the company culture you’ve strived to achieve? In the immortal words of best-selling author and management guru Jim Collins, do you have the right people on the bus?
You can establish your team captains. Author and investor Alan Hall argues that there are “five critical team members for business success.” Those include: the leader, the expert, the financial guru, the strategist and the executer. Does your organization already have these five critical roles on your leadership team? Although it may be difficult to think about these roles, they’re essential to a high-functioning team. If you’re lacking any of them, or if any of the people now occupying those roles aren’t performing well, they need to be identified, hired, developed and/or replaced.
You can make sure the entire team learns and knows the playbook. Many businesses set goals for the year, but are they actively managing against those goals and meeting with team members often enough to set expectations and stay on track? The fall season is a great time to make sure all business goals are in alignment for the year and to start planning for the year ahead. Check in with your team. Is everyone on the same page and moving in the direction with the same end goals in mind?
You can pressure-test for extreme conditions. After the Great Recession of 2008-09, federal banking regulators mandated that all U.S. banks had to be stress-tested, to test whether they could hold up under extreme financial conditions. Perhaps you can think about what parallel that might take in your business. Could it involve some kind of computer simulation, or possibly some structured war-gaming? The operative principal is that if your organization can’t take the heat, it’s better to find that out in a dry run than in real conditions.
You can evaluate your team and make changes where needed. Any good football coach evaluates performance, accomplishments, gaps, and team members who didn’t quite meet the mark. Then the coach determines where growth opportunities lie for the team. We’ve all heard the saying that “a team is only as strong as its weakest link.” This applies to all teams, and an entire team can be brought down by an individual who is not contributing to the overall success of the organization. Conversely, a team member who is a top performer can bring a team to a whole new level. As Jim Collins has observed, “leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with ‘where’ but with ‘who.’ They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”
Let us Help with Your Pre-season Preparation
As experts in Executive Search, it is our job to not only provide advice and counsel to our clients on how to maximize the performance of their teams, but also to ensure that when they seek new “mission-critical” team members, we find them a “perfect fit.” I always strive to find the “difference makers,” or someone who is going to join my client’s leadership team and instantly add value to the organization.
Finding these difference makers requires an in-depth understanding of my client, their business and their culture. I recently placed a VP of Sales for one of my manufacturing clients and met with the new VP in his first week on the new job. While he was still in the first phase of onboarding, he had already started developing a strategic playbook for his new company, designed to accelerate their sales growth in a key vertical market. I can assure you, this person will be a difference maker in no time.
While it’s easy to get mired in the day-to-day tasks and mini crises of our businesses, you should also make some time to step back from the day-to-day management and put a kind of preseason training camp program in place. It works for our search practice, by keeping us focused on constant improvement. I guarantee you that the result for your business is also eminently worth it: a refreshed, energized team, ready to get the season off to a flying start.
I’d love to hear from you. Give me a call (440-519-1822 x117) or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your pre-season training success stories or to discuss an upcoming search need.
By Stuart Glassman
Stuart Glassman is a Senior Vice President and Practice Leader at Torch Group. As a member of the Torch Group leadership team, Stuart leads the Manufacturing and Building Products Practice Group, heads up all the firm’s marketing initiatives and oversees Torch Group client development. Leveraging a 25+ year career of marketing and brand building for Fortune 500 companies for both B2C and B2B industry leaders across a wide array of industries, Stuart shares his views on things he loves including business, executive search, marketing, sports, exercise, dogs and an occasional great cigar.
- Posted by Cassandra Greaves
- On September 4, 2019
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