Hockey relates closely to business and company teamwork…..it really does!
The following story is a great example of how teamwork within hockey or any team sport closely relates to business and company teamwork. This article is meant to give business people everywhere food for thought. Enjoy . . .
Just before Christmas (2009), I was talked into buying equipment to play hockey for the first time in my life. If I were a teenager, this would not be a big deal. However, taking on a sport like hockey for the first time above the age of 40 was and is a big deal.
Skating in Circles
I worked in an ice rink while in college so I mastered the art of skating counter-clockwise. Let me tell you that my one direction skating experience did little to prepare me for playing hockey. Not to mention that I hadn’t been on skates with any consistency for many years.
When I decide to do something new, I rarely dip a toe in the water. After buying all that equipment it seemed to me that in order to get return on my investment, I would need to play hockey more than one time per week.
The Journey Begins
Playing three times per week on three different teams was my answer. In the very first game of my new hockey career, I stepped onto the ice with a group of highly skilled intermediate players. The results were not pretty but I made it through the entire season with this team and very likely progressed more quickly than I would have if I hadn’t played with the highly skilled guys.
In order to not have circles skated around me every time I stepped on the ice with this team, I had no choice but to be inquisitive and to learn the game quickly.
I joined a novice hockey team. Though I had no idea what I was getting into and breaking into an established team from the outside is never fun, I just knew the novice experience would be easier on my body and my ego than the intermediate experience was. I was correct.
It wasn’t enough to play on two teams. I found another novice league and ended up playing on Sunday nights, Tuesday nights and Thursday nights. The physical demands of such a schedule for a guy who has a daytime job were intense. Today, six months later, I’m so glad I went through the early pain because I’m really enjoying this game and the fitness benefits it is providing. I’ve lost over 10 lbs since January and have skated over 60 games in 2010.
Sorry for the long story about how I got started but you needed to know that I’ve been the new guy in more ways than one on each of my teams.
The Intermediate Team
The intermediate team was a brand new team. While there were many talented players, this team failed to win a game because of a lack of teamwork. There was no coach and nobody to pull the weaker players aside (I was one) to give them pointers to shorten their learning curves. It was assumed that everybody knew how to play hockey and that teamwork would automatically occur. In many ways teamwork never happened on this team and the 0-10 record at the end of the season said it all.
The White Jersey Novice Team
My white jersey novice team was also brand new team. There was no coach. There was no team direction. Players frequently played out of position. Mostly because I don’t think they’ve ever been told how to play in position.
Our lines didn’t go onto the ice and come off the ice as a group. Individuals went in for individuals. As a center on a forward line, I constantly had different wings on my right and my left. There was no continuity. Some players on this team passed the puck, most however did not.
There were several lone ranger players on this team who skated the puck from one net to the other to attempt to score. I say attempt because they rarely make it all the way to the opponent’s net and they very seldom scored. They simply didn’t play as team players.
This team won one game and lost the rest. There wasn’t a coach guiding the group as a team or working with players one-on-one to sharpen their individual skills or knowledge of the game. This team was frustrating to play on.
The Red Jersey Novice Team
My red jersey novice team has a coach. The coach determines who will play on each line we’ll put on the ice in any given game throughout the game. The coach is a more experienced hockey player who is quick to hand out advice and to give pointers.
As players, we generally played with the same line all night long. The coach determines when a line needs to come off the ice and when a fresh line needs to go on the ice. The coach makes strategy adjustments throughout the game. The coach provides one-on-one guidance since we’re all relatively new ice hockey players.
The coach gives pointers to the guys on the bench once he has seen what they do and don’t know while they’re on the ice. The coach objectively watches the action on the ice and the individual players who make up the team. The coach sizes up the other team and makes adjustments to our play based on what he sees that we can’t see when we’re on the ice and in the heat of competition.
This team won all of its games with an average margin of 6-2 on any given Thursday night. This team has been my favorite team from the beginning. It really is a team and the teamwork required to win games is always present.
My Hockey Experience Applies to Business in Many Ways
What does my hockey journey have to do with business and company teamwork you ask?
Not much to the average person who has never played hockey but to me, my hockey journey has everything to do with business. This recent experience has taught and is continually teaching me how important it is to get the right players positioned to play the right positions and how important it is to have the right leader in place to lead the team. The importance of skill, positioning, leadership and teamwork in hockey cannot be understated. The importance of placing people who possess the right skills into the right jobs and then working towards cohesive company teamwork also cannot be understated.
The Importance of Teamwork in Business Cannot be Understated
In business today, most companies are trying to do more with less. As an executive security recruiter specialized in recruiting security talent, I see this dynamic in companies every day.
More work is expected from fewer people on a team who have fewer resources at their disposal for getting their work done. Placing the right employees in the right jobs; jobs that fit their skills and capabilities and guiding these employees towards exemplary company teamwork is critical to the success of every business.
Mismatched players playing together on a hockey team will consistently produce undesirable results. A team that lacks a highly skilled leader will seldom produce positive results. A team that has players playing as individuals and without a teamwork mindset will fail more often than it succeeds.
A team that is thoughtfully and carefully built and led by the right leader and is known by the teamwork that defines its efforts will produce positive outcomes in sports and business far more frequently than it fails to deliver.
There are few times in business where a lone ranger mindset will lead to great results. When the right people are placed into the right jobs and are guided to work together as a closely knit team, positive results can and should be expected.
This is Jeff Snyder’s story. Jeff is the President of SecurityRecruiter.com, an executive retained search firm highly specialized in recruiting strategic security professionals for global corporations. Jeff has been recruiting for small to medium sized as well as global Fortune 100 companies for over 20 years.