Your Team For 2020

Culture is a Sport

As it’s a new year, many of us are joining gyms, going on runs, playing more sport, being more active. 

It’s partly about atoning for the excesses of the Christmas period – paying penance for our sins of gluttony and sloth – and partly about wanting to be our best selves in the future. And while we often allow these good intentions to drift away within the first few weeks of the year, sometimes we can make these positive changes stick.

The new year is also a time for us to think about our personal and organisational goals at work, and if we’re managers or leaders, to think about how we’re helping our people perform to their best.

Companies vary in how they think about themselves: some think of themselves as a family; some as a military unit; some as a machine.

We tend to agree with Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh’s 2014 HBR article encouraging leaders to think of their companies as sports teams – it’s about people coming together to achieve common goals, having the right people for the different roles that need to be performed, making changes when things aren’t going well, and bringing in new people to replace those whose skills are waning or no longer helping to achieve the goals of the group.

As Hoffman, Casnocha, and Yeh point out in the article, teams in professional sports that obtain a high level of ongoing success tend to have an established way of playing while individual players cycle in and out of the team, making their contributions to success (or discovering that their skills are not the right ones for the team’s way of playing) then moving on.

Think of Barcelona in football in the Guardiola era, the Golden State Warriors in basketball in the 2010s, New Zealand in rugby seemingly forever, and many more examples. They have a clear way of playing which gets positive results even as players join and leave the team.

Turning our attention back to work, it is so important to be very clear at leadership level and all the way through an organisation on the following:

  • What goals are we trying to achieve?
  • What is the intended ‘way of playing’ – how are we supposed to be achieving these goals?
  • Is our team set up and are we fit enough to play the way we want to?


This last point is the most difficult to get a handle on, and it’s where Workio can help.

With our way of understanding how people are working together, and how they want to be working together, we can help you start the year and the decade by getting your team in shape to pull together to win.

As always, we don’t dictate the way you should work together. Some teams want to play the beautiful game as a team at a high level of technical sophistication, while others prefer to rely on a group with character and tenacity, while others are happy to build a support structure for one or two star players who carry the load of making the positive difference.

These and other methods can work, but everyone on the team needs to be clear on the structure and ideology of the team in order to play their part well.

Teams tend to build on strengths that arise naturally within their organisations, and it seems that success is most likely where teams refine what they already have rather than try to impose a totally fresh approach from the top. There are many, many examples of this going wrong in sports as well as in business.

So identifying those nascent strengths is key to discovering how to get your team performing to their absolute best, then leaders can build on them.

Workio is helping companies and public sector organisations do just that – uncover not just unknown weaknesses but also hidden strengths – so that our customers can get clarity on how to work to achieve their goals.

Now more than ever, it’s time to get your team fit for the future so you can play to win.

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