You don’t need to follow basketball to admire how the Toronto Raptors are turning heads in the NBA. They boast the third-best win percentage in the league, lead the NBA in offensive rating, and point guard Kyle Lowry is already an early contender for MVP. In short, the Raps have accomplished a masterful turnaround from this point last year – they now have 15 wins, and it took them until Dec. 31 last year to reach that win mark.
How do all these heady stats apply to your work as a B2B professional? Below, find out why this scrappy tight-knit team can serve as an inspiration to any B2B company looking to alley-oop over the competition:
If your team is clicking, don’t break up the family
The Raptors made the playoffs last year, unfortunately losing in the first round, but achieving this milestone showed how resiliency pays off: the team’s core didn’t make any major moves since the early 2013 trade sending Rudy Gay to the Grizzlies for key bench players. And the trend continued in 2014, when no starting player was traded away. The Raptors GM obviously understood the importance of keeping your core team together, especially since the starting five were clicking remarkably well late last season. And wouldn’t you know it, this year’s starters are executing on offence and defence that has even surprised this hardcore Raptors fan.
If you have a great team that may be facing a few hiccups right now, don’t boot someone out too quickly. Instead, find out what is bruising the relationship and learn about any grievance causing the rift. The Raptors are excelling because they’re a family and there’s no reason to think your company can’t follow suit. You just need patience and focus.
Have each other’s backs
One of the most fascinating aspects of basketball is how successful teams never go for their own glory but instead back each other like soldiers on a battlefield. If an opponent blows by one of the Raptors, there’s Amir Johnson holding court with his hands up and forcing a tough shot. Or Lowry will take a charge and force a turnover. The Raptors are constantly talking to each other on the court. Almost every possession includes a selfless pass to the open man.
Last week, Raps guard DeMar Derozan (one of the best players on the team) injured himself and missed the last three games. The team didn’t pity themselves and crumble; instead, they won two of those three games, taking two against hardened Western Conference opponents the Utah Jazz and the Sacremento Kings. Other players stepped up in DeMar’s absence.
Do you do the same? Do you pass the ball to the right teammate or do you pass the buck? Well-oiled companies recognize the importance of helping each other achieve a common mission, even if that means shouldering more work. Remember, if one team member fails, the team is hurt as a whole. Sure, that means you might be resentful someone dropped, er, the ball, but you’re not working in a silo. Building confidence in your company means every staffer knowing they can be supported by others.
Value your bench players
The starting five for the Raps are filled with all-star material, but what about those bench players who play fewer minutes but are sorely needed when the starters need to rest? Toronto’s bench ranks third in defensive efficiency, so they are tough defenders when the starters ride the pine. How’s that for clutch?! Often, opponents carve up bench players, seeing them as second-rate ballers who may not be as talented as the core team. And don’t discount the skillset of a Raptors bench player – last week, Raptors guard Lou Williams won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week Award for just being plain lights-out offensively.
Who are your bench players and are you valuing what they bring to your firm? They might not be staff you see every day, but maybe they’re freelance copy writers or part-time salespeople or an external PR team bringing you great press. How are you showing your appreciation to these role players? Do they feel part of the family at the office when they visit? Remember to respect what part-timers and freelancers offer your business, especially if they are surpassing expectations on a monthly basis.
Play a full 48
In basketball terms, playing a full 48 means you’re working hard for the entire 48 minutes of the game, not just the last quarter, or the first few minutes of the second. Every player is on the same playbook page. No one is slacking. Focus is on the win and the win only. In November, the Raps were criticized for being a fourth-quarter team, allowing opponents to enjoy a sizeable lead before buckling down and closing out the game with a win in the final quarter. But that’s a dangerous game to play, especially if injuries cripple a team (see above). In December, though, the Raptors have played the full 48, proving their worth on defence and especially on offence, where they are second in the league in points scored. There’s no quit in this team, to quote almost every Raptors broadcaster this year.
Look at your company and determine if you and your team are playing the full 48. Do you have weeks where laziness creeps into the corporate culture? Are projects taking longer than expected to be completed? Is someone not pulling their weight? Assessing your company’s focus is a valuable exercise to recognize any deficiencies hampering your road to profitable . It might not take a week to uncover the problem. It might take a month or even longer. But you shouldn’t let your team just play one impressive financial quarter and allow them to squander the rest of the game.
For more advice, check out what every business can learn from David’s Tea.
Photos via Raptors.com