Football to Business: People are Everything

    March 26, 2006

The great NFL football coach Bum Phillips allegedly said of legendary Miami Dolphins Head Coach Don Shula (pictured below) that, “He could take his’n and beat your’n; or take your’n and beat his’n.”

In his colourful way, Bum Philips was expressing the power of Don Shula’s ability to develop a plan suited to his personnel, and put it into action in a successful way. The same lessons that work on a football field can be applied readily to your business. It all starts with the people.

What we are talking about is the importance of developing a plan, for getting the most out of the people involved, and implementing it to a successful conclusion. In football, the conclusion is winning a Super Bowl Championship. In business, success can be measured as strong cash flow, profitable operations for the company ownership, steady and sustainable growth, happy and motivated employees, returning customers who are also acting as brand evangelists, and a general public that maintains a positive view of your organization as a whole. All of these results, when taken together, mean the equivalent of a championship for your company.

Great football coaches understand, almost instictively, that a team consists of people of varying talents and specialties. They also know that everyone has their job to do, and if any blocks are missed or footballs fumbled or intercepted, that they entire system breaks down. Every player has a role, and successful coaches help their players to understand their importance. As a motivational concept, the idea that every person is important is a powerful morale builder. In any business, treating all employees with respect, and expressing appreciation of their work, will pay tremendous dividends.

Football coaches like Bum Phillips (pictured left) understand that almost every player can be replaced by another of similar skills. Turnover of player personnel is also part of the game. They also know that acquiring new players has a cost. That expense could be in terms of lost players in trade, an expensive contract for a free agent player, or a decline in team spirit as important squad leaders move on to other teams. At the same time, new players must be trained in the team’s system and playbook. If rookies are introduced into the lineup, the training period can take longer, and be punctuated occasionally by playing mistakes.

For every business, staff turnover is a part of life as well. Staff retention is important to any business. Of course, you want your best people to stay with your company, and not defect to your major competitors. Often forgotten in employee turnover discussions are the average performers who make up the bulk of the company’s personnel.

Don’t let staff members, with the potential to improve greatly, move to possibly greener pastures. Instead, it’s a sound investment for the company to provide them with further training and professional development. As with football, the costs of finding, recruiting, training, and getting new staff additions up to speed are enormous. It is better and cheaper to help existing staff members become even greater contributors to the company bottom line. You will almost always find some new stars on yur team, who were overlooked in the past.

Don Shula understood motivation when he said, “Success is never final, and failure never fatal.”

We can always do better, and it’s alright to make mistakes. That’s how we learn to be great, strengthen out team, and win championships.

What works for the great football coaches, will work for your staff and your business.

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Wayne Hurlbert provides insigtful information about marketing, promotions, search engine optimization and public relations for websites and business blogs on the popular Blog Business World.

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