With the AFL wrapping up, each AFL club team now hits what is arguably the most important part of the year, the preparation phase.

As good players like Jake Stringer (Western Bulldogs) have learnt the hard way, failure to prepare and lack of commitment to training in the off season can be the end of a good player. The same can be true for a good Workforce or company, so what are the critical components to consider to prepare you to succeed?

Strategy – Both you and your team need to know where you are heading

Your strategy needs to reflect what is realistic for your team, where you are in your business cycle (start up, turn around, steady state, re-align) and what your competitors are doing.

Secondly your team needs to both understand and believe in the strategy (traditional change management). For Team members who struggle with either of these, it may be time to review their position.

List Review – Assess who needs to improve

Geelong famously in 2006 had an internal review with key players being told they were under performing. One year later they were premiers and went on to 3 premierships in 5 years.

For businesses the same is true, even high achievers need to be provided guidance on how to get to the next level, and under performers need to be managed back on track or managed out of the team.

Draft / Trade – Hire for strategic weakness

Once you have reviewed the list, it is time to fill the gaps for your weakness. There is no point just hiring at random, staff must strategically support your goals.

If you have 2 ruckmen do you need a third? Similarly, if you have too many staff who can’t work weekends don’t hire more!

Finally it is important to consider what to do with staff that used to meet your game plan but may not meet the new strategy. Ideally players can re-invent themselves to fill roles for the team.

Training – Get ready for the match

When sports teams train, they get more out of the team. Sports teams focus on training their team not just on the skills to execute the task (kicking, handball, tackle), but also on how they expect them to fit in the strategy. You would never see all 18 players from one side next to the ball because they understand how they are expected to work together and their role in the overall structure.

The same should be true for businesses, if you haven’t invested time teaching the team how they are expected to work together and what the goal you are seeking is, your Workforce will end up mirroring an under 8’s football match.

At the same time don’t underinvest in the core skills either. Just buddying someone with another employee and ‘hoping’ they get trained may not always work. Studies have found that “an untrained employee can take six times longer to complete the same task as a trained employee.”

The final siren

Just like an AFL team going through a review, it may be time you analyse your own team:

  • Does your strategy still make sense and does everyone understand and believe in it?
  • How can you get more out of the resources you have and which resources need to be reassessed?
  • What skill areas can you strategically invest in and which ones are you already at capacity?
  • Do you have both a budget and a plan to make sure your team is trained to meet your future challenges?

Unlike the AFL most business don’t get an off season to regroup so what are you doing today to guarantee tomorrow’s success?


Author: Scott Gavens   LinkedIn Logo

Scott is the Director and Principal Consultant at ATEO (www.ateo.com.au). The opinions expressed here are the views of the author/ATEO and do not represent the view of any current or former companies that Scott has provided consulting services for.