March Madness: Make it Work for You.

Each year during the month of March millions of Americans are glued to their TV’s following the annual event March Madness, where college basketball teams compete to determine the national champion of the year. There are two things that remain constant during this time of year: a lag in workplace productivity and, of course, the Cinderella upset stories that ruin brackets across the nation (Hello, Florida Gulf Coast University).

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As Americans, we get a thrill rooting for the “underdog” and truly believe in the madness that is March Hoops. Everyone loves a great upset until it completely ruins your bracket and throws off your standings in the office bracket pool.

A lot of companies are utilizing the amazing perks of March Madness and using it to get their office pumped for work and for the games as well. Companies such as Coke Zero, AllState, and AT&T have all capitalized on the sensation that seemingly takes over the month of March each year. Winning in sports can be used as a great metaphor for winning in business and of course March Madness is not an exception. So how do you compare winning in sports to winning in business?

Clarify the End Goal

During the tournament run, teams often imagine that glory moment at the end of the game where they are holding up the championship trophy, throwing water on the coach and cutting down the nets. In business certain goals may not be as tangible as those for sports, but as a leader you need to clearly define the goals and objectives of your team so that everyone will be able to visualize the win. How will it look at the end of the game when your organization wins?

Make your Employees Believe

As in all sports, there is always the possibility of upset and those occur because the team truly believes that they can win. Andy Enfield, the coach of FGCU, had some inspirational words for his team, “You’re in the final 16 teams in the country,” Enfield told his team in the locker room. “When you started this year you were predicted to be in the bottom 16 in the country.” In business you need to let your team know that you can win and why you are just as good as the other companies doing the same thing, if not better.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

During March Madness the most talented team doesn’t always win. Usually the team the plays the best together and effectively executes their game plan comes out on top. This makes the games more fun to watch, especially when the underdog team knocks out one of the biggest contenders (Wichita State’s win over Gonzaga). Organizations have to inspire their employees to work together as a team in an effort to reach one common goal.

Work Through the Hardships

Throughout basketball games there are many game changers that could cause a team to get out of sync and lose focus, from a bad call from the ref, turnovers, injuries to key players, etc. The same can hold true in business. The markets are constantly changing, competitors are always growing and finding new ways to compete, new technologies come into play, but as an organization you have to take each hit and come back stronger and better than before. Endure the minor or major setbacks that your company will face and let your team know, “what doesn’t kill us, will only make us stronger.”

Make Adjustments

Sometimes the original game plan will not take you to the championship game. In the tournament you only have to be good for the next game. Teams are under heavy scrutiny by the other teams, studying their methods looking for weakness & ways to exploit them. It’s up to the coaches and the players to adjust to the different dynamics of the game and react quickly to each. Businesses also have to make changes to stay relevant and current in the eyes of their consumers. Markets and best practices can change overnight so your team needs to be ready and willing to face any new situations that may arise and take them on without fear.

The championship game is April 8, will your business be cutting down their proverbial net or will they suffer a loss during the Final Four? It’s up to you and your team to decide and to take the necessary steps in order to ensure a win. Good luck!

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