A little while ago, one of the senior leaders proclaimed about BlueChilli: “We are not a family.” and quickly followed, “Families are dysfunctional. We are an elite sports team. Sports teams know how to win.” This analogy of a winning sports team landed quite well with me as it works quite well to drive a high performing culture within a business environment.
In a winning sports team, individual performances are highlighted and team involvement is always celebrated. Notice how an F1 driver always thanks his team while on the podium? That’s not humility, that’s recognition of the hundreds of people who make a winning team.
At BlueChilli, we recently implemented a “micdrop” award, an award that highlights individual contributions, and as a team we celebrate involvement. The award is literally a microphone and the recipient literally drops it and walks out of the room, leaving an applauding team. The imagery is powerful.
Sports team train to win. Training is about feedback loops and coaching.
At our company we’re always implementing both. We have a fantastic employee engagement tool called “Leo the office bot” who, via Slack, asks our team how they’re going and provides an anonymous way for people to provide feedback on anything in the company. Our senior leadership team read through everything and use that as a feedback loop to implement new policies.
We actively encourage peer-learning and mentoring, with monthly presentations to the whole company which helps boost public speaking confidence as well as providing a way to learn new things. Our team mentor each other and we encourage everyone to be open about when things aren’t working out. We even have a trophy for when things do go wrong, celebrating failure – which is the worst thing you can expect to happen if you stuff something up. When you’re in a sports team, your performance is always adjusted, tweaked, improved.
If people don’t know when things aren’t working – then how can they ever improve?
If you want to be in a winning sports team, then everyone – the coach, the captain, the team members, have to celebrate success and failure.