Winning Teams

I went to see Saracens at their new stadium play Harlequins this last Sunday – and a comprehensive victory they secured too. (And before you think, what has this got to do with Falconbury, “bear with” as they say in ‘Miranda’.)

First, a declaration of interest: we proudly have a relationship with Saracens Rugby whereby selected titles in our online/distance learning suite of programmes are available to players – part of equipping them for life after sport, when they move into possibly different careers.

Saracens are in the process of creating a fantastic brand. They have built a seriously committed squad of players and they are creating a new stadium to match their aspirations. But what stands out for me is the skilful way that all this is being done and if the players notice what is being done with them and their club and take those lessons into the commercial world, they will thrive.

Four nouns are listed in big letters on one of the stands for all to see: ‘Discipline’, ‘Honesty’, ‘Work-rate’ and ‘Humility’. Not bad watchwords for any individual and organisation!

But in other areas too, they have clever approaches: fans are encouraged onto the new surface pitch after the game, to run around and play impromptu games of rugby (‘Please Keep ON the Pitch’ state the signs put out after the game); the longest bar in rugby is full of fans and players mixing and mingling after the game, with live music and a player of the match award; I heard of their Father’s Day when players’ fathers are invited to a tour, sit in on team briefings and watch training sessions; there is a players’ family viewing area; and even the merchandising has messages, eg the label on a child’s replica kit reads; “Technical excellence, innovation and a fresh approach provide your team with the ultimate apparel for the rugby player.”

One player told me that they were off on a bonding session to Switzerland after the game, adding that they always win the match that immediately precedes such a trip. I am sure management will be planning more of those!

You can tell when a team is a good one. That comes over at Saracens. It came over when Wales beat England. You can also see it when it exists in your own workplace.

The trick seems to be that, once you have the right players (and there are false-starts here and hopefully mismatches become obvious and people move on), you have to work on the atmosphere/environment where the players can develop and perform at the highest levels and most importantly can work as a team to get the results.

I could sense this at Saracens. I can sense this too at Falconbury!!

Published on Mar 25, 2013 by Neil Thomas