Close calls in March Madness live in the workplace too…

If you are a college basketball fan, you’ve been in sports heaven the last few days as the NCAA tournament gets underway.  Never before have there been so many close games, surprising upsets and thrills at the buzzer.  Click here for a few highlights of some last second victories.

Certainly, your perspective on the tournament so far may depend on whether your team has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen or how well you have fared in your tourney picks.

What has been fun – and nerve-wracking – to date has been the last second victories and upsets.  The final score for some has been the difference of a missed free throw.

This got me thinking.  On the basketball court, five players do their part do ensure they have more points on the board after 40 minutes of action.  In the workplace, some of the same truths apply.

#1 Every play counts.
Many games have ended with a single point victory.  One successful basket at the end of the game isn’t really the thing to praise.  You see, this team has hit several one-point opportunities.  Every foul shot counts.  Those moments on the court where you get a “freebie”; yet it’s pretty common to see a player’s average % around 50%.  Interesting, the one opportunity to shoot the ball with no interference and many player haven’t mastered this task better than half the time.

This truth applies in the workplace too.  How often do we as leaders talk about the importance of EVERY interaction with a customer or EACH opportunity to represent the company to new clients? These are the “foul shots” in our business.  We must perfect them when no one is watching (guarding) us so we can be successful when the moment counts.

#2 Defense and offense count equally.
There are two basic truths in basketball:  1) score every time you get the ball and 2) don’t let the opponent score every t ime they have the ball.  Basic math, right?  Players must know the fine mechanics of guarding the other team without fouling as well as execute specific strategies that enable points to be scored.

How does this look in the workplace? Leaders must remove the barriers (defense) that keep employees from servicing customers (offense).   How often do we ask our team what would really help them wow customers and give them remarkable service that keeps them coming back for more?

#3 Every player has an important role.
Every player must be able to do the basics: dribble, shoot, and rebound the ball.  But upon closer look, various plays showcase each player’s strengths and role in an attempt to score baskets.  Some plays set up the center so he can score under the basket while others free up a guard to shoot a 3-pointer.

In our workplace, how often do we closely examine our team to understand his/her strengths?  That unique skill set or ease to perform certain tasks are the very thing that create your competitive advantage.  It’s that one (or two) things you can do better than every other company who does creates a similar service or produce – and it’s because of the unique role each player on your team fulfills.

Yes, my team (Kentucky Wildcats) is still alive after upsetting West Virginia on Saturday and have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.  Time will tell how well they can follow these principles.

Here’s to great basketball regardless of your team!

2 thoughts on “Close calls in March Madness live in the workplace too…

  1. Well said,Kayla. Also an appropiate timeout(meeting)to discuss or change stategy can be the difference between winning and losing in the workplace.Coaches dare not “waste” a timeout either.

    1. Excellent point. And now with only 4 teams left, these principles will be that much more important. Thanks for the comment Dad.

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