Do You Have the Right Chemistry for Your Team? – by Ross Bernstein

Best-selling author of nearly 50 sports books, Ross Bernstein, is an award-winning business speaker who helps everyone within a franchise system think and act more like CHAMPIONS.  Ross expertly weaves appropriate awe-inspiring stories of what it takes to truly be a champion and connects them directly back to the attitudes, beliefs and simple daily practices can easily be implemented by everyone in your franchise system.  From franchisor home-office teams, to franchisees and front-line staff, Ross’s ‘Champions CODE’ carries a multitude of invaluable life lessons.  Check out this great article from Ross about team chemistry…

Do You Have the Right Chemistry for Your Team?

In my newest series of books about WHY certain teams win championships in professional sports, I was blown away by the importance of one singular metric that was consistently woven throughout the locker rooms and front offices of every successful organization I researched: CHEMISTRY.  Sure, talent is important, but to be successful over the long haul requires having a team of people who get along and can work together as a family. 

What criteria do you use in assembling teams in your franchise system?  Millennials, Gen-X’ers, Boomers — you’ve got lots of different personalities and cultural perspectives all thrown into the same pot together and it can get dicey.  In sports it’s not always about getting the BEST players, but rather

the RIGHT players.  Big difference.  The top coaches figure out which players get along well with others, and which ones create drama.  In any organization there seems to always be a few members who like to ‘stir the pot’ a bit.  In franchising that can be on the individual store level with a franchisee’s employees or coming from a handful of franchisees who always seem to be riling up the rest of the system and coming at the franchisor from an adversarial position.  Anyone who causes drama will eventually contaminate your system.  In sports they are referred to as “team cancers.”  Yes, the old cliché rings true: one bad apple will spoil the entire barrel.  

Want to get a clear picture of your team’s chemistry? Consider getting them out together and onto “neutral turf.”  Take them out for a team building exercise somewhere fun (picnic, bar, bowling, etc.) and see who hangs out together.  Observe who smiles and laughs and enjoys being around one another.  This’s what Scotty Bowman did, the winingest coach in the history of the National Hockey League.  Scotty figured out early on in his career that friends like to pass the puck to friends.  He discovered that when people who liked each other and cared for each other played together on the same line, they were more unselfish and even found genuine pleasure in watching their pals achieve success.  In a culture steeped in individual statistics and huge egos, this is rare. 

A great example of a person who completely bought into this philosophy was Wayne Gretzky. (Full disclosure, I had a gigantic man crush on No. 99 as a kid… but I digress.)  Wayne was the NHL’s all-time leader in goals as well as assists, but he had twice as many assists than goals.  I asked Wayne about that and he said “A goal makes one guy happy, but an assist… that makes TWO guys happy.”  How cool is that?  “The Great One” was a giver, not a taker — and that’s why he was beloved by his teammates.  He made everybody else better around him because of his selflessness.  Who are the givers on your team? 

Another big factor in creating chemistry on successful teams is having “plus-players” on your roster.  In hockey there is a little-known measurable called the plus/minus that might be the most important statistic in the game.  Here’s how it works: every time you’re on the ice during a game and your team scores a goal, you’re plus-one.  Every time you’re on the ice and the other team scores a goal, you’re minus-one.  At the end of the season if you’re plus-50, you’re a rock star and you’re going to make millions of dollars.  However, at the end of the season if you’re minus-50?  That means you’re a selfish one-way player who doesn’t want to sacrifice your body by playing defense — ultimately resulting in either a demotion to the minor leagues or worse yet, being cut.  Ouch! 

Bobby Orr, arguably the greatest defenseman of all time with the Boston Bruins, won the plus/minus crown seven years in a row.  Seven!  Bobby was without a doubt the most respected player on his team because of his willingness to do the dirty work and be a two-way PLUS-player.  Plus-players create good chemistry, build team morale, and most importantly they deter drama.  If you operated a restaurant, this might look like one of your top employees volunteering to work the window, clean the bathrooms, or flip burgers — even though he or she doesn’t want to — and certainly feels overqualified to do so.  Plus-players are infectious… in a good way.  Minus-players, meanwhile, are also infectious… but in a bad way.  Any team must identify and get rid of minus-players.  It’s not easy, but they’re dead weight and their negativity will eventually consume all of the coach’s time and the team’s energy. 

Here’s the bottom line for any successful franchise team: Fill your roster with GIVERS and PLUS-PLAYERS — people who are selfless, willing to come in early, stay late, and lead by example – no matter if you are thinking about building the right team chemistry from a front-line employee perspective for your franchisees or in your own efforts to build the right team chemistry as relates to your franchise partner recruitment and selection practices. Plus-players will have a positive and nourishing influence on the rest of your system that will ultimately allow you to focus on profitability and customer service.  And at the end of the day, isn’t that what great team chemistry is all about? 

Here are three characteristics to look for in creating team chemistry in every part of your franchise system:

    • Get people out of the office to see which ones are friends and which ones create drama
    • Find plus-players who are givers, not takers, and watch their infectious enthusiasm permeate throughout your organization
    • Remember it’s not always about getting the BEST players, but rather the RIGHT players

Let us know if you would like to talk about how Ross can help your franchise organization think and act more like champions.  Ross will unite and motivate your team by showing them that being a champion isn’t necessarily about winning championships, but rather it’s about following their moral compass in order to do business the right way, with respect, accountability, and integrity.

More soon!


P.S. Read what a couple of Ross’s recent clients had to say…

“Ross, Your presentation is still ‘hanging’ with me.  You are the best speaker we have had at any function and I’ve heard from many of the attendees on how much they enjoyed it.  My career as a Hotel General Manager is 20 years of service. Over that time I have had the opportunity to hear many speakers for a variety of brands from Carlson Companies, to Holiday Inn and Marriott. I have heard and met Elizabeth Dole, Jimmy Johnson, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, and many other well-known speakers, but your presentation was the most heartfelt.  Thank you again for the presentation and the book, my husband loved it!”

— Anne Hickok, General Manager, SpringHill Suites by Marriott

“Ross, we have just reached our 6-month mark from your presentation at LHR Hospitality’s annual conference last fall.  Our leadership team, at the corporate office, is always interested in whether our presentations for this annual event resonate and take hold for our year ahead.  I felt compelled to let you know that our key management staff in the field and at the corporate office is still talking about and using the “Champion’s Code” program information throughout their professional lives and many of them have used it in their personal lives as well.  We speak as a company of whether we have and continue to create the optimum “DNA” in creating “Champions” every day in our business.  The hospitality industry deals us opportunities every day for our entire organization to succeed or fail.  The “Champion’s Code” has been the best platform that has stuck with our associates and allowed all our assets to find and execute on champion moments that has set us apart from our competition.  We love it when our hotels, restaurants, and waterparks share great customer service wins with us.  I thought it was worth sharing with you that we have not previously had a post annual meeting platform that has been as successful or sustaining as your presentation on building Champion teams and Champion organizations and for that I thank you!  We are looking forward to future events with you.”

— Doug Rohde, President  & CEO, LHR Hospitality — Lodge Hotels and Resorts


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