Why Building Your Team is Like Managing an NBA Team - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Why Building Your Team is Like Managing an NBA Team

Guest Blogger Peter Haakon, with Lawn Business Consultants, is an NALP Consultant Member.


There are many similarities between a championship sports team and a winning team in business.  Building a winning team in the green industry is no different than how championships sports teams are built.  Championships teams are built with great leadership or a coach, assembling the best players and following a game plan.  Building a winning team does not have to be complicated.

I read an article about some common themes among the ten winningest coaches in the NCAA.  What they discovered was that the coaches’ passion for the job and the focus on the players, both on and off the field, was instrumental in building a winning team.  I see firsthand that the companies who have the most success continually emphasize working on creating a positive culture and focus on the employee’s well-being.

  1. Communicate Vision and Values – How do you create a winning team? It starts at the top with leadership and the ability to communicate your vision and values.  Winning teams are built focusing on creating a great company culture with ethics, integrity and trust.  These must mirror how you want others to see your business and how you want to be defined. You should not compromise hiring someone who does not share your values and work ethic.  To be the best team you must bring out the best in each team member by giving them the tools and resources for personal development and opportunity for growth.
  2. People Want to Play for Winning Teams – Next, assembling a winning team begins with a recruiting program. Look at some of the great NCAA basketball teams.  Exceptional players chose to play for exceptional programs and coaches who have a track record of bringing out the best in their players.  Be certain to have a recruiting program and not just hire individuals at the last minute.
  3. Have a Vision for Each Position – As a business owner or manager who conducts hiring, you must ask yourself, “What is my process? What am I looking for in an individual?”  You must define each position and create criteria in order to properly fill the position.  Too often I hear from employers that they are just looking to hire a body for a position.  Imagine if that person comes with a bad attitude or lack of integrity.  This mentality while hiring leaves out the most essential part of how you want to be defined.  Make a list of all your best employees’ traits (both past and present).  Next, make a list of mediocre or bad past employees who have left voluntarily or been fired.  You will begin to see a common theme.  Attitude and an individual’s capacity to develop are two major differences among your best and worst employees.
  4. Make Everyone Accountable for the Team’s Success – When hiring employees make certain they truly understand how their position is tied to the team’s performance. Success is measured by the team effort not by individual accomplishments.  You win as a team and lose as a team.  When you have created a winning company culture it will manifest with new hires and support the plan and process behind a team’s mission.  Look at some exceptional, talented athletes who are selfish and possess bad attitudes.  You will discover they do not last with championship teams, such as the New England Patriots.  The reason is the culture and team is far greater than one individual.
  5. Look Carefully at Reasons for Turnover – One of the best ways to gauge a company’s success is by looking at the employee turnover. It’s very difficult to have a championship team with high employee turnover.  High turnover signals to me that there is a problem within an organization.  Long term employee retention is tied to a great work environment and experience which is essential for success.  Happy employees are a great recruitment tool for new employees.  Positivity and happiness are contagious much like negativity.

When you have a winning team working in a great company culture, people are far more likely to do the right thing and take accountability for their actions.  They know how their role is tied to the success of the team.   You are only as good as your employees or teammates and they must work together with the common goal of the business.  Don’t forget that winning teams celebrate each victory.  Go celebrate with your team after its next victory.