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Ken Keller: Why your team is losing

Posted: September 8, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 8, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Ken Keller Ken Keller
Ken Keller

This week began the National Football League’s season. In a few weeks patterns will emerge and the contenders and pretenders will emerge.

There is a parallel between the NFL and your business. How a company performs the last four months of the year can mean the difference between winning and losing in 2013.

Why do some teams (and companies) end the season having won more games than they lost? I believe that there are ten reasons for failure; some maybe occurring in your organization.

The first is a lack of commitment. Individuals fitting this definition are mercenaries, working for the paycheck. When management makes it clear that people are only to work and not think, this quickly turns the most loyal employees into doing the minimum.

The second is a sense of entitlement. This happens regardless of title, seniority or an attitude of “this place is lucky to have me on the payroll.” This attitude manifests itself into believing and acting that the rules, policies and procedures apply to others, but the entitled are exempt.

The third is unqualified people on the team. Sometimes the needs of the business have outgrown the person, or the person has outgrown the business. In both cases, a change is needed but making this change is difficult.

The fourth is that the team never practices together. People get caught up in their own world of work, failing to understand greater impact on others. Because of these blinders, they fail to comprehend the need for teamwork.

The fifth is a lack of internal and external ties. When people are separated, it fosters the building of silos. It’s supposed to be a team, and team effort, but no one would say it functions as one.

The sixth is the missing scoreboard. Fans look for the score; but the players see more valuable information on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, companies don’t share enough information on how the game is progressing so that the employees can make a stronger contribution to winning.

The seventh is too many bad meetings and not enough good ones. Holding meetings may not improve performance, communication, or teamwork. Every meeting should have a purpose and a goal, and kept to the minimum amount of time necessary to achieve those two things.

The eighth is that the players are not evaluated often enough. Everything is filmed in the NFL and that information is used to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, who will be playing and who will not. That kind of talent micromanagement is not necessary in business but every employee deserves candid feedback during the course of the year.

The ninth is that every NFL team has a deadline to prepare for that week’s game. This burden falls on both coaches and players. If a team wins that week, they are deemed having been prepared. If they lose, the team was not prepared. This deadline is sacrosanct. In most companies, there are very few deadlines, except for clocking in and out on time, which eliminates any sense of urgency by employees to get things done that impact results.

The tenth is that in most companies, communication is horrendous. Many employers would be guilty of having infected their employees with NETMA (No one Ever Tells Me Anything). In the NFL, when a player is late to a practice, or misses the team flight, or misses a block or a pass, it is a due to a lack of communication. Winning teams and top players in the NFL rarely have this issue.

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with small and midsize business owners to grow top line revenue. He can be reached at Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.



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