This week the Tour de France kicked off minus one Sir Bradley Wiggins. The fact that cycling has become a part of the national sporting conversation owes a lot to the big British talent like him which has come to the fore over the past few years and started to conquer everything in its path.
This has nearly all been down to the way Team Sky has been built from the ground up over the last five years.
For those interested in building and motivating high performing teams, reading through the interviews with the team and its management provides some great insight for those of us who work outside of sport. Here are five lessons I have learnt about performance from Team Sky:
1 Always be bold in purpose – All the way back to when Team Sky was formed, the team’s management set the bold ambition of winning the Tour de France. For a UK team with no pedigree in tour cycling this was a pretty outrageous ambition. But having an unwavering commitment to a big ambition was a critical first step to success.
2 Get the support team right – Both Team Sky and UK cycling have worked out that success is driven as much by the supporting staff and having the best tools to do the job in hand as the raw talent. Focusing on getting the right environment to perform and identifying where it can be improved is critical to high performance. The smallest things can make the biggest difference.
3 Team before individuals – Last year’s Team Sky had all the big beasts of UK cycling: from the bold sprinter Mark Cavendish to the ultimate Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and the unheard of but talented Chris Froome. While each had their own ambitions the team ethic trumped all: this shared focus on the big prize was key to success.
4 Know your limitations – At the end of the last Tour it was clear Team Sky had to reshuffle its talent to succeed in the future. This meant taking tough decisions about letting some members go for the good of the team. Being proactive in identifying limitations in your team is critical to future success.
5 Celebrate success properly –Last year the pictures of Sir Bradley with a glass of wine and cigarette in the tabloids showed that even world-class athletes need to let their hair down. Seeing Sir Bradley off the leash last year on holiday in the sun is a reminder to all of us that high performance requires the oxygen of rest, recuperation, fun and freedom.
Reflecting on all of this provides a reminder that while pay and reward remain a preoccupation for employees and organisations, they aren’t the only factors which drive performance.
We can do a lot to influence success by focusing on what they need in order to do a great job, the support they need from managers and how they contribute to teams.
Andy Philpott is sales and marketing director at Edenred – you can access insight about benefits and reward on our knowledge hub – www.edenred.co.uk/ehub/