Our Thoughts

Developing talent with an Olympic mindset

The Olympics is a sporting spectacle like no other, and Rio 2016 will be no different. As athletes from all nations descend on the coastal Brazilian city, much will be made of their physical performance in the coming weeks. However, whilst the physical element will dominate headlines and captivate audiences, a lot of an athlete’s preparation will be psychological.

For many months, if not years, competitors have been preparing their mental focus for the moment they step out to fight for a medal. It is this mindset that managers and employees should learn to apply in the workplace. But how can businesses identify and encourage this Olympic mindset?

Learn from mistakes
Employees often view mistakes as something that should be avoided at all costs; some even fear the mere thought of making an error. However, the same cannot be said for athletes who understand that making a mistake can actually help them to improve their performance. In a business setting, making a mistake can cause demotivation, so managers must emphasise that each new experience will require a learning curve. With this approach, managers will be able to offer the support and guidance that is needed to turn an error into knowledge for the future. This will help staff understand that making mistakes is simply a fact of life and not something to be feared.

Be coachable
Olympic athletes thrive on feedback, both positive and constructive. In fact, they often pay for coaching teams to critique their style in order to enhance their performance. This process is normally managed very carefully, with each performance reviewed as it happens, highlighting the importance of delivering timely feedback. Without this positive attitude towards development, an athlete may fail to reach to top of his or her game whilst competitors excel.

In the workplace, being coachable is essential across all levels of the organisation. Having an open mind and accepting feedback is the first step to being ‘coachable’, but high performing individuals will take this a step further. Peak performers typically ask for 360° input and constructive criticism from your team, are flexible in their approach to assignments, and are unafraid to retry a task that may not have succeeded in the past.

Generate drive
When it comes to being the best, Olympians know that they have to push their bodies and minds further than ever before. To beat the best, employees will also need to find that extra gear and really push themselves. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable is something that employees should embrace in order to make sure they are working to the best of their ability. Being in a situation that is outside of someone’s normal comfort zone is a challenge, but one that will lead to greater results personally, and for the wider team.

Team work
Even athletes competing in individual events have a strong team behind them, helping them to prepare for the event and providing encouragement. Maintaining a strong team mentality is equally important for employees. Managers need to ensure that members of their team are being encouraging and supportive and that each individual is motivated to work to the best of his or her ability. A rowing squad cannot win if one member is out of sync; the same can be said for a team in the workplace. All employees must be working towards a common goal in order to achieve success.

Work ethic
Olympic athletes are in the best possible physical condition for The Games, but this does not just happen; it requires a world-class work ethic. This is achieved through serious dedication, motivation and an unyielding desire to win. Employees also need a strong work ethic in order to achieve their goals in the workplace. In the same way that an Olympian dreams of a gold medal, a manager must ensure that staff also have a clear and achievable goal to work towards.

So whilst you’re cheering on the country of your choice, in your favourite sports, watch out for that Olympic mindset and see how you can create this in the workplace. Ready, get set, go…

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