Build a Great Team With These Tips From Joe Gibbs

You may already know of Joe Gibbs' status as one of the most legendary and successful professional football coaches and NASCAR owners in the history of those sports, but were you aware of his renown as a motivational speaker and author?

Since Gibbs is such an experienced team-builder, we asked him for some tips on finding and retaining talented people.

How have you found good team members in the past?
In football, we had 13 scouts touring America. When they came back, the first thing they wanted to tell me about was all the things you can measure. How much the players weighed, how fast they can run, how high they can jump. But the key to picking people isn't just that. It's the desire they have inside of them and what kind of determination they have.

What's your advice for retaining high-quality people?
It's important to understand that your talented people have choices. You want to make your company the absolute best place they can work.

If you're in a competitive environment, others are going to come after your talent. When that time comes, you want your team members to think, "Wait a second, if I leave here, I'm giving up all this." You've got to appeal to those people and make sure that their job is one they're excited about.

Any tips on how to keep your team motivated?
We're all very competitive, and I think we need to appeal to that competitive spirit. In football, it's easy. We've got six days to get ready, and the seventh day we play the game.

Set your goals in the shortest time span possible, like we did in football. For example, [tell your employees] in two weeks, we're going to see how many sales calls we've made. Then [tell them] we're going to reward the people who have made the most sales calls in front of their peer group. If you put people into that environment, they're going to compete.

You've often talked about encouraging team members to take calculated risks. What's your approach?
We all know that risk-taking is part of sports, and it's part of business, too. It's important for your team to understand that they're going to take some risks.

If we were going to try an onside kick in football, at some point in the game I would prepare our entire team by telling them that it's a gamble, but we've calculated and we think we've got a good chance. Risk-taking can give you the biggest rewards. You recover that onside kick, you've got the ball at the 35 line, then you've got a great chance to score.

If the whole team understands the game plan and everybody signs off on it, I think you're going to find that people are willing to take the right chances.

Get more Joe Gibbs wisdom about finding, building and motivating successful teams; watch his video. 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FedEx.

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