Lessons from the rugby pitch

Motivate your team

When companies approach me to help them with their business strategy the first step I take is usually to look at the team, their roles and their personal views on the way forward. After all without the whole team committing to the way forward change will not happen as productively as is needed. Teamwork is something that has always fascinated me – sometimes the most disjointed teams can run successful companies. The question on my mind is always if they were that successful disjointed how much more successful could they have been if they were united?

If, in the past, I had not worked for managers who allowed me to take risks I do not believe I would have achieved what I have achieved and therefore I would not have served my clients as well as I was able.
Today business moves very quickly and as a service provider, you have to move as quickly and be ready to think of solutions that are not conventional or the norm.

As a rugby fan, I have spent the last couple of months absorbed in the Six Nations tournament and rugby is often an analogy I use to demonstrate my points on teamwork. In rugby to score tries and win the game you must work as a team and you must be prepared to pass the ball to score. However each player has a specific role to fulfill, the kicker must be able to score conversions and take penalties, the hooker must be able to throw the ball straight at a line out and so on. Whilst each player has to concentrate on their specific role they also need to get the team over the gain line, they have to read the game and work out what their opposition’s game plan is. The players go onto the field with a pre-determined game plan but if that game plan doesn’t work then the players have to use their skill and experience to determine whether to change this during the game without sacrificing short term gain for the long term loss of the game.

Business is the same. To be really successful you have to have a clear plan that is understood by everyone, skills that enable you to beat the competition and a team that know their individual skills and how these benefit the team as a whole. Individuals need to know that they will be recognized for digging the ball out and passing it to their colleagues. Managers must foster an environment where employees are comfortable and rewarded for passing the ball and able to say and accept what their skill is but recognize the individual skills of their colleagues. Managers must also encourage their teams to try new approaches and risks accepting that sometimes you have to take the points but sometimes if you put the ball in the corner you can score more points.

My approach to team work is called teaming; putting the best people together to gain the best outcome. Managers and the team as a whole must value their bench as well as the people on the field. After all in rugby your bench can win you the game, it also enable members of the team to gain experience at the end of the game when it is won but needs new legs to keep the score you already have. Risks, like taking a drop goal, can even win a world cup.

Stuart Everson co-founded City based Everson Hewett, now part of Restaurant Associates. He now manages his advisory company Everson and Partners and is part of the EP Evolution network.

For more information about EP Evolution please contact Chris Sheppardson, chris.sheppardson@epmagazine.co.uk

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