What the workplace can learn from the world’s leading sports competition.

As a fanatic fan of NBA basketball, I visited many games whilst travelling in North America. During the recent year, I studied team performance, habits, and traits of several professional basketball players and their successful coaches. Even looked into what they are doing in their spare time, mainly related to their routine in personal health.

With the NBA season started off last week, there are hundreds of games to watch until the play-offs are announced in April 2020 and I can encourage everyone to have a look at an average game on YouTube to get a feel like the supremacy of this sport.

So what are the 6 reasons why camaraderie and communication go hand in hand in the workplace?

#1 Living in the moment and celebrating each other

No matter which working environment I worked in, being in the military, investment banking or working in a tech startup, there is an autopilot mode everywhere, we are simply doing some work just to work: whether it is in front of our screens, or doing a presentation slot or just sitting together doing a team meeting.

When you simply break the routine as an employee can do, I strongly believe every employee are leaders within themselves to make the best out of it and give your colleague a hug or a high 5 when something has been achieved, this highlights the moment and does bring the people amongst yourselves back to this moment of celebration and releases everybody from the ‘chains of the autopilot framework.

#2 Unlock your energy and get some tailwind

Just like athletes do during a game, even when you feel like you are losing or falling behind, a compliment or smile drives positivity and allows your body to squeeze out an extra push of energy. Your mind directly realises that there is not just you alone, aiming to climb this high peak, but you are part of a team in place, working together to make your team and your company successful.

It takes time to nurture and grow over time, but relationships with your teammates and giving each other compliments really adds up in the long run. Camaraderie as such is the number one reason why employees stay longer in any company. It’s more important than the monthly payroll.

#3 Focus on key objectives but don’t forget the personal priorities

In the workplace, it is mostly about accomplishing company-wide goals like revenue growth, operational excellence, customer intimacy, mostly stuff that is published in the annual report of any company. If you look at what an average employee will reproduce when being asked for the goals he or she is working for, they will answer something different.

Being aware of the achievement of certain milestones during the week (and not just at the monthly team meeting) will create a better understanding of where the company is heading for and why. Drilling it down to an individual team these milestones will get more color and meaning. It’s, in my opinion, a process to guide a team over time in the right direction. Communicating your vision and repeating that is the best way to resonate. But always leave room for personal growth and private life, people who are running on their toes too long will eventually leave the ship, if worse comes to worst, get injured or in the workplace get burnt out.

#4 Provide a sense of appreciation

Wholehearted employees are living and working with love and passion and try to make a difference. Engagement numbers are just at an all-time low, according to Gallup and there are even words of an “engagement crisis” going on whilst the labor market is still on a high rise.

I reckon there is something broken and the chickens come home to roost when the economy is slowing down.

In basketball, you notice for instance that team members are still ‘low five-ing” their buddies who just missed a free-shot. It keeps the energy inside and retains confidence.

“A low five is a gesture of celebration in which two people slap their hands together at waist level”

The same impact can be realised within any team. Feeling part of a greater good and making an impact is not just something millennials are looking for, I guess it’s something universal. If you feel part of an organisation and you feel a sense of appreciation. Obviously, this will increase the camaraderie and hence the retention of the top talent in any organisation.

#5 Competition is a good thing

As Steve Kerr (currently the head coach of the Golden State Warriors) has mentioned in one of his interviews, competition is a good thing: making yourself better by losing against the best players in basketball and get the motivation to get better. Do not put the blame on others, or be ashamed, just improve your own behaviour or provide direct feedback to your colleagues when the ball does not fall in your park.

#6 Coaching is not controlling

Everything we do is part of a bigger process, improving, growing, nurturing, getting better. However, in our current world of scarcity where failing, making mistakes or being vulnerable is not always appreciated. If you look at Linkedin, I sometimes see it as a positivity bonanza: just only successes being shared. Whilst the learning really lay in the difficulties, the struggles.

Picking up the mistakes, and reviewing the things that actually go wrong helps managers (not just) improve incrementally and making giant leaps over time. Coaching each other and your teams progressively produces higher impact than just controlling the assets as some more traditional organisations would do.

In the end everyone can be or is a leader itself. Just like athletes who make themselves better and know exactly what needs improvement.

About Keypath

Keypath combines employee wellbeing, engagement, and recognition into a mobile-first platform to improve health and inclusiveness in the workplace.

We achieve this by using employee-generated feedback loops to improve the daily habits of employees hence making the workforce more sustainable.