hockey player sliding kicking up iceBlades once again glide across the ice and pucks are shot on net as the National Hockey League begins its 2013 season. Hockey fans are looking forward to a brighter 2013 after the 2012 season was cut short by a contentious lockout. The NHL achieved some transparency, although probably not the kind they’d hoped for, as fans watched the battle over profits between league and players unfold.

Still, when it comes to effectively running your business, transparency is key. It’s also important to keep your goals in mind when dealing with employees and motivating your workforce. Just like the NHL, you need to know what players on your team are skating toward the goal and who is merely standing in place.

Your goals might not be achievable with a simple slap shot, but there are still some valuable lessons your business can learn about goal-based workflow from the NHL:

Know Your Players

On an NHL team, every player has a well-defined and specific role to play. The goalie guards the team goal, while the forward is an offensive position whose primary responsibility is to score goals. Players know whether they’re expected to cover the center of the ice or the sides (called wingers) so the team can run smoothly when trying to score. Each player knows how his position contributes to scoring goals for the team. An NHL team doesn’t have an overly complicated organizational chart, and each player understands the role he needs to play in order to win.

When recruiting the team for your company, it might be prudent to take a page out of the NHL playbook. Your job descriptions should be goal-based and include specifics on what tasks and duties the new hire will be expected to perform. A hockey player doesn’t come into a team unsure if he’ll be guarding a goal or checking an opponent. He has a certain skill set the team is looking for in a position player.

The same should hold true for your hiring efforts. You’re not just looking for a candidate who can skate by in your company; you’re looking for someone to add a specific skill set. By knowing and understanding your organizational goals, you can use the job description to show top candidates how their contributions will fit into the overall company mission.

By using goal-based language, you’ll attract better fitting employees because they know exactly what kind of candidate you’re looking for. If you approach recruiting like an NHL team, you’ll ensure everyone on your team knows how their position contributes to meeting (or scoring!) your goals.

Keep Score

Ask any hardcore hockey fan about their favorite player and they can probably rattle off a Rain Man-esque list of statistics. This is because, in the NHL, you can easily see a player’s vital stats, allowing coaches and fans to understand how that player is contributing to the work of the team.

Unfortunately, it’s not always this easy when it comes to your business, but it should be. You need to build a better team focused on achieving your company’s mission statement, and those stat-crazy hockey fans might just hold the key to success.

In your company, focusing on goals and fostering transparency can help you isolate the MVPs from your employees skating around in circles. When goals and employee contributions toward those goals are apparent, it’s easier to see your best players and reward these people accordingly. Talent alignment platforms can help you keep focused on goals so you don’t miss the forest for the trees.

These platforms can also help you monitor employee workflow, so you can easily see who is completing projects and who is hopelessly behind. This will help cut down on office politics, since it’ll be simple to see who is positively contributing and who is blocking your team from scoring goals.

Be a Good Coach

An NHL team would be nothing without a good coach steering the ship. Coaches and team managers are the ones focused on the goals, allowing players to continue training and improving their position-specific skills. This means coaches draft plays and figure out how to strategically position the team so they’re more likely to come out of games victorious.

Of course, all this strategizing would be for nothing if a coach couldn’t also effectively communicate the team’s overall goals to players. Keeping an eye on the prize and another on players is what makes a great coach.

By communicating your company’s goals you’re effectively working to ensure everyone can see how they contribute to the team. This can keep your workforce motivated and help everyone, from the bottom of the organizational chart to the top, see how they’re contributing to the success of your organization.

Teamworking isn’t always easy, but knowing the company goals is imperative to keeping your employees focused. Whether it’s completing a project or winning the Stanley Cup, employees should know what they’re working toward.

It doesn’t matter if your team is driving a puck down the ice or driving a project toward completion, clear communication and a goal-based approach to leadership makes a huge difference. If your organization is more transparent, employees can better connect their work contributions to your company success. By focusing on your goals you can form a winning team and foster more all-star players.

What do you think? What lessons about team management can you learn from the NHL? Share in the comments!

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