Always Field Your Best Team

Lesson number: 

The sports and entertainment community can teach the business community a thing or two, about placing their best team on the field to WIN. All businesses large and small, know how fiercely competitive every day can be when they open their doors to serve their clients. However somehow that doesn't seem to stop them from fielding a mediocre team, to compete with their toughest competitors.

Let's take a look at a few examples, where only the best candidates make the team. If you follow football, you will notice from High School to the Pros, every player is recruited; must tryout for the team; is constantly evaluated; and will play only if they are the best team member the Coach or Manager can find to place on the field to win. There is no room for mediocrity. There's lots of hard work involved at every level; lots of training; lots of practice; and an expectation that you must do your very best at all times, to remain at your position. In football it is clearly understood by all that the best trained and best prepared individuals have the best chance of winning the game on the field of play.

Since the above formula works in football, it seems obvious to me that it should also work in business. Some may make the excuse that the monetary incentives are greater in sports than in business. However, I think that's more of an excuse than a reality. I have dined at many small restaurants who fielded a trained, professional staff who served their customers with excellent food and service. The staff members at these restaurants were not paid like professional athletes. Yet they were top notch in every respect. The owners of these restaurants took pride in their business and knew what it takes to build a loyal customer base. They made sure they had the very best team in place to accomplish their mission of winning on the playing field.

On the other hand, I have dined at large casino restaurants or restaurant chains with a wait staff that was mediocre at best. They mixed up orders; were just short of arrogant; and their checks had items on it that we never ordered. It appeared that some of these incompetent people stayed at their jobs for years, regardless of their shortcomings. Perhaps there was a union in place and it was difficult to fire incompetent workers. Or perhaps the management just didn't care that their patrons were unhappy. One thing that was certain is that these restaurants were not fielding the best team they could recruit; train; and win at the game of satisfying clients.

In the entertainment business, the competition is also fierce. Producers and directors will only field their best team for every project. There is no room for slackers or those who don't perform TODAY at the highest level. Every project has to perform on its own merit. Because one movie was a hit, doesn't guarantee that the sequel to it will be an automatic hit. This type of thinking is also necessary in the business world. For example, I don't care if Comcast or Dell was a great company ten, five or one year ago. If they have incompetent or uncaring people on their team TODAY, I do not want to deal with them any more. When Comcast stopped satisfying my needs, I switched to Dish Network who proved to have an incredible staff. They were better trained; friendly; and knowledgeable. They were hungry for my business and wanted to please me. This attitude resonated right through the telephone line. Since becoming their customer, I have bragged to those I know about them. Fielding your best team really works.

I believe Jack Welsh and GE had it right with their business philosophy, regarding employees. Just like sports teams, they recruited the best candidates to work for them. They invested an enormous amount of time and resources on training; evaluated their team constantly; rewarded the best 20 percent handsomely; set higher standards and goals for the middle 70 percent, with incentives for advancement; and constantly removed the bottom 10 percent of their employees, making room for new recruits. This formula sets the stage for constant improvement and a championship team. It removes those team members who don't deserve to be on it.

I have preached the philosophy of fielding your best team to my former business clients for years. I have also practiced what I preached. As a business owner, I always had a job opening for a talented, disciplined employee. My eyes were always open to recruit the best talent I could find. Once they were hired, trained and ready to go, I took the worse performer out of their misery. This was a well known strategy and anyone who wanted to stay with my company, knew their job depended on their CURRENT level of performance. This strategy raises the performance bar for everyone. Our company grew constantly and every loyal, hardworking employee benefited from this strategy. The reason we all benefited is because we served our clients better and they bought more from us. They also spoke highly of us and referred more business our way. Everyone wins when you field your best team!

Thus, if you are not fielding your best team, ask yourself why not? Then get a plan together to do so. It really works!