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Encourage your team

Encourage your team

Encourage your team to do their best by taking some lessons from the Olympics. If these help win gold medals, what impact they can have on your team?

Nine years ago, I was hooked. I’ve never really been a big sports fan, but as my husband enjoys athletics, we’ve always enjoyed the Olympics.

Particularly in 2012.

I’d always regretted not taking up the opportunity to work at the Sydney Olympics when Sodexo (who I was working for at the time) were heavily involved in the catering and support services.

So, I wasn’t going to miss out a second time, and got involved with delivering customer service training for some of the local temporary Tourist Information Centres, and the Games Makers. I went along to see the Olympic flame come through our local town of Petworth on a wet and miserable Monday morning.

Then, I think like so many people, I was captivated by the opening ceremony; who could ever forget The Queen dropping into the stadium from a helicopter?! On the opening day of events, I made my way up to Box Hill to cheer on our cyclists.

And for the next 15 days, I can safely say I got very little work done!

But so far this year, I haven’t watched a single event in Tokyo.

What’s changed?

For me, without the crowds, it’s completely lost all atmosphere. Is this important? I think so.

The other day I was reading an interview with Greg Rutherford. He was recounting his feelings as he entered the Olympic stadium on what became known as “Super Saturday”, and how the crowd’s reaction really spurred him on (and even isolated one voice in the crowd who called out “Come on Greg, this is your time”).

Of course, Greg went on to win the gold medal, along with Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah both also winning gold medals that same evening.

Drawing on the energy of the crowds, I’m sure it makes a massive difference to people’s performance.

So, what has this to do with managing people?

I believe, just like those athletes, people in your team can get spurred on and encouraged by those around them.

Here are 7 lessons I believe we can take away from the Olympics or sports in general and apply in business:

1. Set goals

Every athlete knows what their goal is. It’s not always to win, it might be to qualify and get through to the next round, it might be a personal best, or simply an improvement on their last performance.

Does everyone in your team understand their goals and what constitutes success for the day ahead?

2. Focus on strengths

Whether within a team, or in an individual event, sportsmen work to hone their skills. They don’t compete in events that are not suited to, and in team events they complement one another.

How often within our teams do we create a Jack of all trades, but masters of none?

3. Supportive feedback

When sportsmen perform, they don’t just get feedback on their performance compared to competitors, but also some specific feedback on their individual performance. If they didn’t win or achieve their goal, they want to know what to do differently next time; if they did win or achieve their goal, what did they do to achieve this.

Do your team members always get useful feedback on their performance?

4. Coaching

There’s a reason why so many sportsmen give credit and recognition to their coach. It’s one thing having feedback, but it’s quite another having the support and guidance to act on that feedback.

Does everyone in your team get the necessary coaching and guidance from their line managers to improve their skills.

5. Putting it in perspective

Goals can be less inspiring and motivating when they are too far-reaching. It can be more encouraging sometimes to look back at how far they’ve come, rather than how far there is still to go.

This is a useful strategy to use with people who lack confidence or doubt their ability to succeed.

6. Lap of honour

When a sportsman’s been successful, they can revel in the limelight with their lap of honour, audience applause and prize-giving.

Do your team members get an opportunity to revel in the limelight, to get the recognition they deserve, when they’ve done a good job, supported a colleague, or gone out of their way to make a customer’s day?

7. Continuous improvement

No sportsmen will stay at the top of their game if they become complacent. Even after a big win, it’s not long before they’re back in training and fired up again, working towards the next goal.

What do you do in your business to get your team fired up again after a big event, or after reaching a significant goal?

If you only do one thing to encourage your team:

Review these 7 lessons and pick just one to do more of over the next 2 weeks of the Olympics.

Related video: 5 Ways to help employees feel valued

Related blog post: Setting mini goals