Posted 02-05-2013

Another football season has come to an end (joyfully, regrettably, or finally, depending upon your fan status)! So it’s an ideal time for us to learn from the performance management cycle of professional football.

Before each season begins teams focus on one goal—winning the Super Bowl. Coaches and managers develop game-winning strategies and plays. Players benefit from constant feedback and effective coaching, developing skills that support team objectives. Each week they play one game at a time. Win or lose, the following week they review every minute of the game. They keep their eye on the prize. They manage distractions-even power outages.

How often have we heard ourselves and our team members comment that distractions or “putting out fires” got in the way of our goals? At the end of the football season, the team that best manages the distractions takes home the trophy. The good news is that within your company more than one team can win.

Here are a few management lessons can we learn from football:

  1. Identify YOUR Super Bowl. Mutually set goals-first with your boss, and then with your employees. Keep your eyes on the prize.
  2. Be vigilant about protecting scheduled feedback time. Football teams have one week to prepare for the next game. Feedback to your team should be immediate and on-point. Determine how often you should meet to review results, not merely activities, and the most effective and efficient process for doing so.
  3. Coaching is critical. Be clear with your feedback. Identify what is working well and what is not. Make adjustments as needed, including determining if you have the right players.
  4. Document your own performance and that of your team. While football statistics can be a bit extreme, basic metrics include yards, tackles, completed passes, field goals, and touchdown. Be specific with your documentation, focusing on the most important metrics. Choose quality over quantity. Select the most effective method that will be easy for you to use (e.g. a running journal, email, database or paper folder).

Yes, football is over for awhile, and for this 49er fan, there is always next year!

What this means to you: Now is the perfect time to review your organization’s goals and ensure that they are meaningful to your team. Schedule feedback time and make adjustments where needed. Determine if your documentation needs to better reflect feedback. Coaching your team is one of the most important contributions you can make to their success. Proper training, as always, is the key to winning a Super Bowl.

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.