3 Management Lessons from the US Women’s Hockey Nightmare:

The puck skittered across the ice towards an empty net in the third period with just minutes to play. The US Women’s Hockey team could taste gold.

But it wouldn’t be long before the puck slid an inch to the left and dinged the post. Gasp.

Canada would go on to score in the final minute to force overtime and win with a golden goal. Silver, for a second straight olympics, was the only bitter taste the team would get.

Coach speak would tell us that we can all learn from losses, though – right? Well, we broke down the game film, and being the non-elite-athletes we are – broadened the lessons to fit the strategic business roles we all play.

1. Limit Turnovers

We quickly saw that turnovers (careless loss of the puck) led to 2/3 goals.

So the short story is this: don’t let your competition win by carelessly loosing employees to turnover. It’ll cost you, some say, at least 3 months of that employees annual salary.  Furthermore, the leading indicator of employee tenure is the first 90 days.

So start the strategic discussion now. Zero turnovers CAN be bad and leads to stale performance. But what are you doing to encourage, inspire, and motivate new and existing employees?

2. Backup Matters

In the final minutes, we see a line change at the wrong moment – leaving the Canadians on a wide open breakaway towards the US net. What happened? Our support system broke down.

You may have 10 key employees in your company that own 80% of the knowledge and skills to make things tick. What if one leaves or takes a vacation? Bottom line, institutional and informal knowledge must be communicated across your organization or you’ll end up with no backup in key moments.

3. Game Management

The way a team executes their game plan when ahead 2-0, is very different than when they’re behind 1-0 with 10 to play. With the US women, execution broke down – they failed to manage the game by defending well and maintaining.

The same is true in our world: identifying problem areas and adjusting before they become weaknesses will separate the good from the great. Often, business leaders get caught in the daily grind, and forget to pop their head up to find the inefficiencies that are inevitable.

Find them, now. Go searching, because if you don’t, your competitors will win. And it’ll leave a bitter taste, I’m sure.

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