Following the incredible start to the Paralympics Games, following Team GB’s outstanding success at the Rio Olympics, we examine the strategic and practical HR programmes Beststart HR can provide organisations.

Team GB’s results, for many, have brought back fond memories of London 2012.  Those with longer memories will recall the 1980s when British success was a smattering of medals from the likes of Allan Wells, Steve Ovett, Sebastian Coe, Tessa Sanderson and Daley Thompson.  By the Atlanta Games in 1996, the British team languished 36th in the medal table with only one gold.  Whilst much has been made of the investment that has come into British Sport since 1996, rising from just £5m a year to £264m at London 2012 which netted Team GB 65 medals, this does not tell the whole story.  Investment alone does not guarantee success.

There is a striking analogy which has been well documented between business and elite sport as both strive to replicate each other’s winning success.  Leadership, organisational structure, operational excellence, continuous improvement, talent management at an individual and team level have all been examined to the nth degree.  This is no better illustrated than through the work of Dave Brailsford, former GB Cycling Performance Director and now General Manager of Team Sky, in his pursuit for that winning ‘marginal gain’ or Daley Thompson’s approach to training “I used to train on Christmas Day because I knew my rival wasn’t.”

Whilst being an Olympic athlete is likely to be beyond our reach, how many of us in our daily lives apply the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius… Swifter, Higher, Stronger?

Beststart HR has spent years working with organisations of all sizes and types to implement strategic and practical HR programmes to improve company performance through people.  Company Director Anita Wynne explains, “Creating that winning mentality starts at the top but it has to ultimately emanate from all areas of the business.  The way in which an organisation attracts, selects and retains their staff, the behaviour and actions of the Executives, right through to how talent and team performance is recognised and managed impacts on a company’s long-term performance.  Get it right and you will see the desire people have to improve and achieve.  Most importantly, they will aspire to develop and grow within your organisation rather than elsewhere.  However, to be successful they have to be given the mechanisms which allow them to do this.”

What became clear in the recent Games is the impact team success and team spirit had across the whole GB camp.  The ‘Team’ legacy could not be more important and without question, success is breeding success.  Building on success is, as we know, a lot easier to do than finding it when the chips are down but what does this mean for an aspiring business owner and managers whose company is growing rapidly or going through seismic change either through acquisition or decline?

The key is creating teams of people who are not just satisfied with ‘good’ but want to exceed all expectations.  At the same time, they keep their camaraderie and respect for colleagues and are ‘running’ in the right direction.  As Anita Wynne comments, “The starting point is taking the business strategy and goals and breaking these down into attainable milestones or KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] for every employee.  This means that when everyone is up and running, they are all going in the same direction and can see the link between their effort and business success – the goal becomes clear.

The next step is to create and harness each individual’s drive and keep them self-motivated.  This is unlikely to be achieved by the normal performance management tools, for instance, the annual appraisal.  Even though the aim is for individuals to drive themselves, employees will need support – even the best athlete needs encouragement and feedback to keep them going.  Each organisation may need something slightly different.  The key is a supportive culture where mistakes can be openly discussed and learnt from; regular opportunities for two-way feedback and a review of performance against target; a willingness to keep pushing the targets to achieve more; and rewards linked closely with performance that the individual values – we need to consider what is the ‘gold medal’?”

Ultimately, when you take away the technological developments for the Olympics and Paralympics that make up the best bike, boat, blade or wheelchair, the athlete is still and always will be at the centre of sport.  Talent will take you so far, but without the hours of honed dedication, commitment, and a desire to be the very best, our medal count would still be in the doldrums of Atlanta.

Engendering at least one winning ethic into our daily business lives is the start of moving our organisations onto a path of sustained success – how will you do this?

For more information on how to develop a winning team, please call Anita Wynne at Beststart HR on 01438 747 747.