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6 Business Lessons to Learn from the Summer Olympics

6 Business Lessons to Learn from the Summer Olympics

As I watch the Rio Summer Olympics, I am in awe of how these athletes are so disciplined, fiercely competitive, yet always human after their event is over. An example of that “good sport mentality” is displayed when they hug the winner, even when they wanted to win gold, for themselves and their country.

Believe it or not, many of the observations and experiences of the Rio Olympics can be translated to any business environment. Here are six lessons that businesses can apply in their day-to-day operation.

Learn to Adapt Quickly

Olympians must adapt to the climate, altitude and other factors of the host country that can affect their performance. In addition, they must get used to the customs and language. This is particularly difficult because many athletes do not know if they will make the Olympic team until about one month before the ceremonies begin.

Are you adapting quickly to the needs of your clients and prospects? How can your organization shift gears faster? Are you still using a paper process when the use of technology could make your organization more competitive?

Always be Recruiting and Cut the Fat

The U.S. Olympics coaching staff is always on the lookout for the next generation athlete. They start as early as middle school looking for talent. Those that have been to the Olympics many times (i.e. Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt), realize nothing is guaranteed. These seasoned athletes need to prove themselves over and over again.

Are you always on the lookout for the best and the brightest stars? Are you letting go of non-performers? Do you have measurements within your organization that are objective (meeting sales quotas, on-time delivery of products and customer response time)?

Be Open to a New Way

Olympians are always trying and testing faster clothing, better ways to train and hydrate and feed their bodies. They want anything that can give them a competitive edge.

Are you equipping your team with the best office furniture, technology rentals, and collaborative tools? Are there ways they can do their job much more efficiently if they just had better-working conditions? What can you change out today that will make your team more competitive tomorrow?

Keep the Focus

Athletes stay in the Olympic Village – far away from their family and friends — yet close to their teammates and coaching staff. However, that doesn’t mean these athletes don’t worry about their family. So, the U.S. has hired program managers who keep family and friends occupied with sightseeing adventures, thus allowing the athletes to relax knowing their loved ones are cared for.

Are you keeping your team focused and eliminating distractions? For example, if your employee is in the sandwich generation and has to miss work to take an aging parent to doctor appointments or field their calls, can your company help them with elder care services? Do you know the personal challenges your employees face and can your organization help overcome them?

Athletes are the Brand

Every athlete comes to compete with the U.S. flag and the words USA somewhere on their uniform. Everything they do leading up to, executing and after the Olympics reflects on the USA. They are proud to be at the competition and proud to be a United States athlete.

Are you keeping your employees branded with shirts, auto fleets, and marketing collateral? Are they proud to wear your brand and are they proud of their workplace? What can you do to extend the brand to them and vice versa?

Congratulate the Competition

Most of the athletes in this game have one tradition; they hug the gold medal winner. This is as to say, “You did good and I recognize your efforts”.

Do you congratulate your competition? Do you study what they do to be great? Are you trying to learn from their efforts?

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