In January 2021, the Jacksonville Jaguars fired head coach Urban Meyer III after just 11 months of a very turbulent relationship. Meyer was accused of calling his assistant coaches names and kicking a player. He also made other players leave the team’s facility for extended periods.
(Sorry for bringing it up, Jaguars fans.)
Yet, there’s something telling about the reactions of Jaguars players after Meyer was fired. It’s something all business leaders should listen to.
In a mid-December 2021 ESPN report, rookie and hopeful franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence reported the locker room had changed. Specifically, Lawrence said, “I think [the coaching change] brings a little bit of clarity to the guys in the locker room.” Simply put, the Jaguars were melding together as a team again.
There’s a powerful lesson in the Jaguars’ 2021 season drama all “coaches” (read: entrepreneurs) need to heed. When your “team” isn’t functioning like a “team,” there’s no hope for success. Under Meyer’s tenure, the team only won 2 games. That’s surprising because they drafted the #1 seed quarterback and had an experienced coach like Meyer at the helm.
But it’s not a story unique to football. In any organization, when your team isn’t functioning together, you’re not going to win any games.
Start With The Hire.
The foundation of any good business is the people representing it. They interact with your customers and carry out your mission. Think of them like that final piece of a Jenga tower before it comes tumbling down. They make your business stand out from the competition and ensure your customers keep coming back.
To draft the right team for your business, you have to consider what it needs and what this person brings to it. For instance, if you have an open front desk position, a problem-solver who is also warm, friendly, and organized is ideal to fill that spot. After all, that first interaction with your business is what leaves a lasting impression on new customers.
So, if the person you interview is awkward and cold but has great organizational skills, they still may not be the best choice. You can teach organization and software. But you can’t teach someone to be a people-person if it isn’t their personality!
Distinguishing between innate skills and teachable traits is a powerful tool to find the right people for your team.
Then, Train Them Right
You can increase employee longevity in many ways. One of the best ways to encourage employees to stay with your organization is to regularly thank them for their work. When you show gratitude, employees become invested in your company, and they want to stay.
However, another component is key in sealing employee longevity, and it starts with your newest employees. Proper training provides employees with the tools and confidence they need to succeed in your workspace. Your team member needs to know what they are doing and see the results of their work. They also should know they can continue that education as they work with your company. These provide a subconscious level of support that a simple thank-you can’t do.
But there’s a caveat to this. Training cannot stop after an employee is no longer considered new. It’s much like how any professional sports team trains and practices year round for each season. Your company should also provide regular training opportunities so employees know how to grow and better serve your business. As industries change, you have to help your employees change with them.
Finally, Inspire Competition
A little friendly competition never hurts, right? Depends on how you do it, according to the Harvard Business Review. In a study of 457 managers, researchers encouraged a little competition, but how they did so varied. Some managers were told what they would win if they came out on top. In doing so, they were excited and motivated! Others were told they would lose a bonus if they failed to meet requirements. These managers were stressed and anxious.
The study warns business leaders against publicly shaming those who don’t meet internal “quotas.” This can cause a shame spiral that likely won’t change their employee’s performance. Instead, the study encourages positive competition. Rally your team behind one goal or competition they can do together, like beating last year’s sales numbers. Keep the “prizes” visible and the focus on the competition. In doing so, employees will be in competition with themselves, leveling up and breaking records they set. This kind of competition inspires teamwork — not friction between team members.
Another way to encourage competition is to create “fun” challenges, like walking competitions or chili cook-offs. You could even host an office Olympics event! These unique events encourage your employees to share their personal side. They’ll connect in an exciting way and build a stronger team. These are the distractions with big benefits.
Go, Team, Go!
We often hear that a business’s employees are their “team” or “family,” but people rarely inhabit those traits without effort. Harness that team spirit, inject positive competition, and find the right players for your squad! Then, if you regularly practice, you will create a championship-winning team.