Perhaps you are a sports fan or at least have watched a game? You have probably heard broadcasters and coaches talking about the amazing level of parity that exists between teams—talent is not easily quantified, of course, but some estimate that only a 10% talent difference separates the most talented teams from the least talented. Clearly, in that case, talent is not the primary determining factor in the success or failure of a team. This is very similar to the world of business—most companies in a given industry have access to approximately the same level of talent. What separates the winners from the losers? In business, just like in sports, the key is how you manage the talent that you have. Below are tips to help you get the most out of your workforce:
- Emphasize culture. Your company culture plays a key role in your success or failure. Which values are important to ensure success in your industry? These often include loyalty, good communication, hard work, ingenuity, and more. Are these values embraced by your workforce? Do your employees go the extra mile to ensure that the job is done right, or are they just there to collect a paycheck? Compare the culture of the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders over the last decade. Where the Patriots are disciplined, unified, and precise, Oakland’s teams have been individualistic, sloppy, and inconsistent. Do you think that the difference in their win-loss records reflects more on the difference in talent level, or the difference in culture?
- Give your employees a reason to work hard. What is the mission of your company? For many businesses, the goal seems to be “make money for the owner.” If that is the case, it is hard to expect your employees to be motivated. It is important to create a larger purpose. For instance, Apple makes great products—but they have defined their mission as something much larger: improving the lives of their customers. It is no coincidence that the majority of their employees are incredibly passionate about their jobs.
- Create a system. Do your employees have clearly defined roles and expectations? Can they count on their coworkers to perform their jobs? Many small business owners leave the details in the hands of their employees—but that is generally a big mistake. Do not micromanage, but do create a detailed system with defined expectations, responsibilities, and roles. In a chaotic work environment, many employees are unwilling to go that extra mile—because they have no confidence that their efforts will matter. When employees have a clearly defined system, they know exactly what they can expect from their co-workers and their management.
Building a winning team is not about talent. Yes, talent is important. But it is how you manage your talent that will determine the success or failure of your business.