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Lead Your Team Strategy

Business Lessons From the Locker Room

Yaniv Masjedi, Vice Presidentof Marketing at Nextiva, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Professional sports teams and small businesses have a lot in common. Most highly successful teams/companies are led by thoughtful leaders willing to support superstars and mentor underdogs. While there are some differences, i.e. size (usually less than 50 players on a team vs. possibly 100s or thousands in a small business) and pay ranges (very few small business employees make $30 million per year like Kobe Bryant); there are a number of lessons small business owners can learn from professional athletics.

Stats matter more than emotion

Think about your top dogs — those employees who've been around your business for a while and with whom you feel a connection. Are they performing at as high a level as they used to? If not, are you keeping them around just because of nostalgia?

Metrics (i.e. stats) are the most important measuring tool when it comes to business. Take the emotion out of the equation and you may have a much clearer picture of the future success of your business. This fact was prominently featured in the 2011 true-to-life film Moneyball when managers of the Oakland A's baseball team stopped being subjective and starting looking at player stats. The result? The team made it to the playoffs two years in a row.

A coach should take responsibility

As a business owner, it can be easy to pin a low revenue month on employees. Maybe a few of them missed their metrics. Maybe a negative customer review went viral. As hard as it seems, it is best to absorb most of this responsibility. After all, you are the owner of the business (i.e. coach), you hired your team and it is your job to deliver.

If your team is struggling, look first at yourself before punishing them. How much time are you investing in training your staff members? Could you be training them more effectively? Do you have a well-supported mentorship program for at-risk team members?

Schedule regular huddles

Employee satisfaction is closely tied to the degree in which management communicates. Everyone wants to know what is going on at his or her place of employment — good or bad. Try to schedule your own version of a 10 to 15-minute locker room huddle at the start of every day. Go over team successes by singling out stellar team members and discuss areas for improvement.

Identify the trophy and the payoff

When the Miami Heat won the NBA Playoffs, LeBron James and his team members each walked away with a reported $52,000 just for winning (on top of their existing multi-million dollar salaries). Receiving the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy was an exciting goal and the bonus was a nice added inspiration for players.

Business owners can take a page from the NBA's book by establishing solid goals. Try setting quarterly sales goals, customer retention percentage goals and so on. Then, set up an incentive program for the company at large. When the entire team hits a goal, everyone is rewarded. This will increase camaraderie and a shared enthusiasm to win.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.

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