It occurs to me as I watch all that is going on with America’s two favorite sports these days, that there are two distinctive parts to building a healthy, happy and successful team. Generally speaking, assembling what is deemed to be the best team available “on paper,” is section or part #1. The second half of this equation would be the nurturing, training, engagement and retention of those very important “parts” that we tried so hard to obtain in the first place. This is an area where many organizations need a assist in. In professional sports right now, Major League Baseball is right up against its annual trade deadline. This is the time of year when those teams still in the “hunt” for a pennant or spot in the playoffs often make trades of long-term prospects for more established, bigger name players who fill a specific, short term need for the team in question. Some people call this “renting a player” as often the players sign one year deals and will be re-dealt elsewhere in the off-season.
Meanwhile, over in the National Football League, after a 4 month strike by players/lockout by the owners of this tremendously successful sport, the two sides have come together just in time to save the season. A few days ago the Players Association came to an agreement with the league’s team owners on all kinds of monetary compensation and benefits issues. That’s great news for the fans especially. Now, over the next week or 10 days teams will sign players, cut players, and trade players in a bonanza which usually takes places over several months. This roller-coaster, “speed-dating” type of process is all in a furious effort to QUICKLY assemble the best parts possible for each team to make a run at THIS year’s championship. It’s all about win-now, right? Well, if we dig deeper we see that the teams in this league, and for that matter in Baseball that have the most consistent levels of success are nearly always able to look long term AND short-term when addressing their talent needs. In baseball year after year teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals and a few others stay at or near the top of their game. The same can be said for the Steelers, Patriots and Colts of The National Football League. They foster young talent and do their best to hold onto their own best players, BEFORE they try to bring in any outside talent to supplement the pieces already in place. Otherwise, they might sign 3-4 great new players, but lose the same number off of their already existing, and strong rosters. That’s not progress! Rather, that is standing in place.
Think about this. We often see apartment complexes offering all types of incentives to lure new tenants, yet rarely are those same incentives offered to retain tenants. So many organizations these days are budget challenged, and sadly one of the first things many choose to cut back on is ongoing development, training, employee engagement, team-building etc. These are such important areas of focus. As the economy slowly recovers, and more jobs become available, organizations that don’t properly engage their employees, and find ways to maximize their talents will lose some of their best assets to other job opportunities. Remember, team building is a double pronged action. Sign and retain. We retain by making sure our employees know they are appreciated, and giving them every opportunity to succeed both as individuals and as part of the team!