RSS Taking Your Game to the Next Level

Okay, I admit it; I am thoroughly caught up in the current football hype surrounding the University of Oregon Ducks. At the timing of this writing, the Ducks have yet to play the Auburn Tigers for the right to be called “number one.”  No matter; this article is more about the evolution of a winner and not about actually being identified as a winner. (I will say for the record, however, “Go Ducks!”)

As I contemplate the number of minute details that had to occur for the University of Oregon football team to go from a perennial also-ran to playing for a national title, I can’t help but see similarities in the world of business. First and foremost is the investment by an organization to recruit and hire talent. In the world of football, talent is identified not only as athletic ability, but also as a capacity to learn the fundamentals so that each player can efficiently execute their role within the team. Similarly in the world of business, the talent must possess the requisite skills to successfully accomplish their assigned tasks. More importantly, however, is that staff continues to learn and improve their skill sets so that the organization becomes more efficient over time.

College football teams routinely recruit new talent while at the same time focusing their training efforts on developing the fundamentals with current players; businesses, however, often rely upon long-tenured employees to effectively execute on strategic objectives without providing the benefit of continued training. The training that tenured employees require isn’t necessarily fundamental in nature but rather should be focused on expanding individual capacity.

Let me state my point of view in a slightly different way:  Training new team members require that they correctly learn specific functions while performing the functions on time and on budget. This requires fairly close monitoring and coaching. Training tenured team members requires the development of an ever-expanding capacity of individual value, such that the outcomes achieved come with decreasing levels of coaching. It is expected that experienced employees not only perform their required tasks well, but that they continue their personal and/or professional development so that they can create more INDEPENDENT value over time.

On the football field, it is typically easy to differentiate the skill level of upperclassmen from that of younger athletes. It’s because the continuous training over the course of a collegiate career enables the more tenured player to better anticipate what’s to come and to plan accordingly. It’s the same thing at work. Experienced employees are expected to perform at higher levels, not only doing things the right way, but anticipating ways to create more value without having to be told to do so.

As you look at your organization and decide how to take your performance to a higher level, please consider the capabilities of your existing talent pool. It’s possible that you have tenured employees who have reached the apex of their careers and may not have additional “upside” in which to operate more efficiently. It’s also possible that you don’t have enough tenured talent to offset the investment made in new recruits, and you could be limited in the capacity of your existing leadership to coach the new employees while motivating the tenured ones to reach greater levels of significance.

It’s also possible that you have the right talent to take your organization to greater heights, but you lack the vision to take them there. I’ll save that issue for another article. Best wishes to you all for a happy and successful 2011!

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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