Learn Square


Blogging about the Learning World.  

Teamwork Modeled by the Calgary Flames

March 31, after securing a 5-3 win against the San Jose Sharks, the Flames clinched top spot in the Western Division.  The team is entering the playoffs as the top seed in almost three decades. Is the 2019 team better than the 2004 team, or even more talented then the 1989 team that won the Cup?  Some respected people from the industry believe so.

The Flames’ success is everything but coincidental though. Business teams take note. 

Here are three things they did or do phenomenally well that explain why the team, during this season, is one of the best in the league. These three suggestions can be implemented in any business environment to spur growth and increase performance.

Spend Time Bonding

You don’t have to love your co-workers. Heck, you don’t even have to like them!  But, for you, your company, and your team’s sake, you must work well with them. After all, anything of great significance, like our ancestors surviving a lion attack or Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, has been achieved by pooling our skills together and utilizing our teamwork abilities. As much as society sometimes tries hard to convince us that we can achieve great things alone, this is not the truth.

Now, to come back to your co-workers…like any other working, personal, or other type of relationship, in order to increase effectiveness, you’ll have to spend a fair amount of time bonding with them. 

At the beginning of the hockey season, 20 Flames players, plus the coaching staff and equipment staff, were forced to spend 24-hours a day together, for what someone might say is a long agonizing eight days. Needless to say that, sometimes, they spent time in close quarters (think airplane or using the toilet in hotel rooms). What can go wrong, right?

In a recent Globe and Mail article, the Flames President, Ken King, was first to admit that the preseason trip to China was an extraordinary team-building exercise, even suggesting that the seeds of the Flames’ success were sown during this time. I couldn’t agree more. So does the centerman Derek Ryan, the guy fresh off the boat at the beginning of the season, coming from the Carolina Hurricanes.  “I was like anybody else that has a new job. You worry on your first day of work and first year and wonder if you are going to fit in.  Going to China forced us to spend time together and bond, and it was important for me coming in here in my first year.”

There is a powerful argument to be made about team members who know each other well enough, so they can adapt to situations appropriately when confronted by the inevitable problems that will arise in any workplace environment.  

Put Team Needs First

Any decision ever made in a team must consider the needs of the team. It has priority above all. Period. That means that the individuals undoubtedly must come second.  Now, let’s go tell that to a team whose members feel unsecure about their job, or their bosses and/or colleagues’ true intentions.  Let’s go tell this to a team that has a poor level of trust and that is plagued with mean-spirited conflict.  It’s a recipe for disaster. 

Dalton Prout, in between periods at the same game against the Sharks on March 31, was elated after scoring a goal. He felt sorry for a personal mistake he made earlier in the game. He added that he wanted to win so bad with this team and you could feel in his voice that he really, really meant it.

And Bill Peters, the coach, added after the win: “It’s a group now that nobody wants to be the guy, nobody wants to be the guy that lets anybody down.”

Take Care of Your Greatest Asset

A company’s greatest asset does not appear under the asset columns on its balance sheet. In other words, a company’s greatest asset is not the building or equipment it owns or the cash it possesses.  While fundamental to any company’s proper conduct of business, a company’s greatest asset is its people.  So, it is crucial to take care of the people first. 

On April 1st, with the Western Division title now secured, the Calgary Flames rested a bunch of their regular players against the Los Angeles Kings. A well-deserved rest for some after a gruelling season and a chance for others to prove that they deserve a spot in this great team. During the season, when one Flame is hurt and can’t play, another player has to step-up and fill his shoes.  That is expected from all. And when something goes wrong, the others don’t even bat an eye; its everybody’s responsibility to clean up the mess.

King said about the China pre-season trip: “We didn’t know it would turn out as well as it did.”  And that is exactly the thing. Once you, and your organization, start believing in teammates, extraordinary and unexpected things start happening. 

In a world plagued with instant gratification, it is more important than ever to take the time to know our colleagues, to bond to release the good old Oxytocin hormone, to strive for belonging and to be rewarded because we tried – and sometimes failed – but we bonded, we put the needs of others first and we put our own people first.  Go Flames Go!

Need a training solution for your team? Contact us at faudet@learnsq.com or (403) 831-2915

Frederick Audet