Business Lessons Learned from the NFL Referee Scandal
We can learn a lot about business from the football field. The NFL employing replacement referees came with lots of lessons. The idea that there would be a seamless transition and that, perhaps, no one would even notice, fell flat on its face. The use of replacement referees is considered by most to be a complete fiasco. But what lessons can we learn and apply to our own businesses?
1. Value your team
Everyone in you organization contributes to your success in a specific manner. Each employee is an integral part of the operation. Recognize the role that each team member plays and imagine trying to operate without that person. Appreciate that they are working hard and also want to see the company succeed. Take time to show your employees how much you do value them.
When employees raise issues, you have got to listen. It doesn’t matter if they want to talk salary, job function, a change in roles or product flaws. If an employee approaches you with an issue, it is because they care. The same goes with customers. The ones who care the most about your brand are the ones who complain. Employees and customers who raise an issue need to be heard out. It’s your opportunity to improve the business.
Proper training cannot be touted enough. It doesn’t appear that the replacement referees where given extensive training prior to taking the field. That is the responsibility of the company. Those employees represent you, your company, your product or service and your brand. Throwing your team into the fire without proper training is recipe for failure. In addition to the specifics of their job, they need to understand what your company values, what are your goals, and what targets they are working toward. Lots of people complained about the poor performance of the replacement referees. But it was not their fault. They got called to do a job they were not trained and ready to do. They meant well and tried the best they could within their ability and experience. If the NFL wanted seamless transition, they should have spent a little effort to train the replacements.
Football teams have second and third string quarterbacks, baseball teams have a crew of pitchers, and the President has his VP. What’s your back-up plan? If your customer service team walked out of the office today, how would you handle it? Would you throw your accountants at the job because they “talk to customers and vendors” on a daily basis? What have you done internally to cross-train employees so that everyone can appreciate everyone else’s job? If you hire temporary employees, what will you do to ensure that they provide the same quality product or service? (See above.) No matter how well you address points 1-3, you still need a plan B.
Everyone is delighted that the real referees are back in the game and that negotiations reached an agreement. But had the NFL been more prepared for the situation, they would have been able to make it a lot less painful for the fans who love them, as well as less damaging to their brand. I’m sure the referees are glad to have their job back, but do you think they feel valued? Appreciated? With the way the negotiations where handled, what’s their level of job satisfaction?
What lessons can you pull from the NFL and the referee negotiations? Please share in the comments.