HRNasty gettin’ flossy with the Seahawks lid I picked up after the NFC championship game to commemorate an epic HR event.

Seahawks building Corporate Culture

If a company wants to build corporate culture and bring teams together, they could not have asked for a better opportunity than this week. This week is ripe for corporate team building in any company that has football fans, but in Seattle and New England, it is cherry pickin’ time.

Yes, another Seahawks blog. Last week I blogged about the Seahawks’ power of believing in your team / and hiring to corporate culture, and their come from behind upset win. One year ago I blogged about a misunderstood Richard Sherman. This week the Seahawks mania continues.

It is just a few days before the Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. In Seattle, you cannot go 5 minutes without seeing a Seahawks jersey, a car decorated with Seahawks colors, or a building with the ginormous 12th man flag visible for miles. There are a number of buildings in town that have swapped out the floodlights that illuminate their buildings with the Seahawks green and blue lighting. It is one of the best things that can happen to a city and everyone is in a great mood. Yes, even HRNasty who has only paid attention to the halftime commercials is looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday. I was so impressed with the Seahawks I picked up my first sports themed baseball hat pictured above, an official NFL licensed, New Era, NFC championship lid!

The Seahawks have not only brought the city together, but they have brought departments within corporations together. Employees are looking at their employers with pride because there are 12th man flags hanging from their buildings. There may be a large expense in swapping out the color of all of the floodlights that illuminate buildings to Blue and Green, but now employees are looking at their buildings with a different perspective. This week they are thinking “That is my building”, and smiling to themselves with pride. From an HR perspective, this is a Godzilla moment. As my fly tying mentor says, “This is Doctor”. 

From an HR standpoint, I think this is one of the best team building opportunities that corporations in Seattle or New England could have asked for. As I visit peers and colleagues in their different offices this past week, I am seeing every flavor and degree of fan enthusiasm. As an employer, I haven’t seen an event that has solidified company employees like our local Hawks going to the Superbowl, EVER.

The watering hole, (AKA in corporate America, the water cooler) has been surrounded by members of the various tribes or employees from different departments since the dawn of time. Since the invention of the time clock, employees have always visited company kitchens and break rooms. Where employees from different departments and teams would have otherwise gone about their breaks in a “mind my own business” sort of way, this week is different. The camaraderie created by the Seahawks has given everyone a reason to strike up a conversation. Departments that usually didn’t talk to each other not only have a common bond but are also signaling that bond by sporting Seahawks jerseys, limited edition lids, Seahawks earrings, and 12th man flags hung from cubicle walls. These past few weeks, corporate America in Seattle has a universal conversation starter – Football.

There is something to be said for the ancient phrase, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. What is cool about Super Bowl 49 is I don’t think there are too many people in Seattle that consider the New England Patriots to be blood enemies. I haven’t sensed a long history of rivalry between the two teams, but again, I am no expert on professional football. From my observations, this Super Bowl is not a case of the McCoy’s vs. the Hatfield’s.

I absolutely love the opportunity created for this corporate culture-building event. This week we have been brought together because we love and believe in our Seahawks, not because of our dislike or disapproval of another team.

I think this is the best week to leverage team-building events on momentum that is already happening at an organic level. The team building that is going on is subtle but it is there for those that can appreciate it. If there are companies that think this is a week of distractions, don’t fight it. Accept the interaction as gift and leverage the opportunity. This week is not the United Way campaign where we have a company goal to raise money and measure for highest department participation. (I have nothing against this event, but it always feels a bit BigBrother when they track donation participation.) This week presents an opportunity for the best kind of team building available. This week the team building is Self-Motivated.  

How would HRNasty think about leveraging this event to create memorable corporate culture? How would I think about getting as many high fives and positive memories within the Acme Publishing building premises? Here are a few ideas:

Seahawks party in the office on SuperBowl Sunday

I probably wouldn’t make a company announcement. I would just give the OK for budget to some of the influencers in the company so it is more of a grass-roots effort and not a feeble attempt by managers like me who don’t know football. Conference rooms have big screen TV’s and larger companies have auditoriums. There is always someone who can hook up a laptop to a projector. There is nothing better than seeing someone from accounting high five’n someone from marketing. Actually, seeing anyone from accounting high-five’n anyone is a win, and this is our opportunity to make it happen. How much is popcorn? How big of an expense are chips and dip? How much does it cost to get some paper plates and napkins in team colors? It will cost you peanuts. Actually, get peanuts too. That is traditional ball game stuff right? This has the making to create the best team building experience on the cheap – cheap. A very short waiver should probably be considered if alcohol is a consideration. If you don’t want alcohol, just say that kids are allowed to the event and use that as an excuse. It could be as simple as a potluck, it can be as elaborate hotdogs, popcorn and peanuts provided by the company. The point is, it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Employees who have never been football fans will be fans on this day. Why not have them be fans with their co-workers? In the least, we could organize a company meet up at the local sports bar.

Biggest Seahawks fan contest

Our winner is probably not going to receive a pair of tickets to the Super Bowl but it is easy to go down to the local sports equipment store and pick up some football paraphernalia that can be displayed at the desk, will be a conversation starter, and item of personal pride. I am thinking Richard Sherman Bobble Head doll, miniature helmets, and of course something they can wear to their Super bowl party and gives our employee turned evangelist a bragging moment. “Yeah, I was the biggest fan at my company? Where do I work? Acme Publishing, you should check it out, it is a great place to work”.

Department showing the most Seahawks pride

We absolutely need to have this contest. Anytime you can get a department working together towards a common goal, you gotta’ play that card. I am imagining walking into departments with crepe paper banners in blue and green hung May Pole style. I am seeing 20-foot “Go Seahawks banners” hanging from the cubicle walls. I am sure that someone is going to come in with a roll of that fake green grass we see in front of mobile homes and will create a miniature football-tailgating scene. The prize for this doesn’t have to be much. It could be as simple as a 2nd hand football trophy from the local Goodwill to a pizza lunch for the department.  With any luck a few guys will be wearing helmets and pads and a few women will be in cheerleader outfits. But the gods would really be shining on the Human Resource department if a few women showed up with the black paint under their eyes, helmets tucked under their arms and shoulder pads under their jerseys and the men showed off the cheerleader outfits with pom-poms and wigs. BooohhhhYahahh! If that doesn’t have the making of a memorable event that builds company culture, I don’t know what does. If people don’t walk away from that company meeting with a smile on their face, we got problems Yo’!

Keep the momentum going on Monday 

If your company has big screen TV’s throughout the office to deliver your company message, have the game playing on Monday as well and milk the momentum. In the least move the TV to the break room and replay it with the volume muted.

If you are a company whose employees are showing some Super Bowl enthusiasm, leverage it. Employees won’t be working together because they have to, they will be working together because the want to, and that my bitches, is company culture.

See you at the SuperBowl party and please don’t drink and drive,

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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What the Seattle Seahawks teach us about building teams

Posted: by HRNasty in Company Culture, What HR Really Thinks

Legion of Boom! Is your team this tight?

Seattle Seahawks and HR lessons learned from the 2015 NFC Championship

Here in Seattle Washington, the entire city is fired up about the NFC Champions, Seattle Seahawks going to SuperBowl XLIX. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t watch too many games this year, but I really enjoyed the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers this past weekend. Yes, it was exciting, yes, it was a nail biter, but for me personally as an HR guy, it was a story of an organization that captures the essence of “Best Place to Work”.

Richard Sherman

Nothing says badass moe foe like flying into the end zone while flexing your muscles and calling attention to your junk, BACKWARDS! Marshawn Lynch doing it with style. 

I have said it before and it was reinforced to me during the Seahawks NFC Championship game. Hire employees that were living your company values BEFORE they were hired, and you have the foundation for a Best Place to Work. Interview and hire your team to succeed in the worst of times and they will stick with the mission when the chips are down. Anyone can hire a team to perform in the best of times when the money is flowing and everyone is in a good mood. Building a team that will perform when the odds are against you, when many would give up, takes chops. The Seahawks have those chops.

Hire for success against adversity within your company culture.

For me, the parallels between the concept of sports teams and departments within corporate America were uncanny. Watching this game, I observed a number of dynamics in action that all corporate managers are striving for with their teams. I saw in the Seahawks the values that every company tries to recruit, nurture and retain within the departments they build. Yes, I am comparing HR with the 2015 NFC Champions – the Seattle Seahawks.

For those not familiar with American Football here is a quick breakdown on last weeks battle and the adversity the team faced:

  • The Seahawks trailed 19 – 7 with 4 minutes remaining and were all but ineffective on offense prior to this point. For many, the game was over (some Seahawks fans actually began to actually leave their HOME STADIUM).
  • Quarterback Russell Wilson threw more interceptions (4) in the first 3 quarters than he had in any other game.
  • Richard Sherman, the All Pro Corner back plays much of the 4th quarter holding one arm pinned to his body due to injury.
  • Earl Thomas, one of the leagues best defensive backs leaves the game with a dislocated shoulder and then returns with a harness to finish the game. (I don’t know about you, but that sounds painful. He is going to tackle 250 lb. men with this shoulder?)

So what did I see in the game that gets me so fired up when thinking about HR building great teams and legendary leadership?

1.  The Seahawks NEVER gave up

The Hawks believed in each other till the very end. With 3 minutes and 19 seconds left in the game, had the Seahawks chance of wining at 1%. After Russell Wilson’s 4th interception, ESPN put the Seahawks probability of LOSING at 97.1%. In other words, ESPN’s software predicted that ninety-seven times out of a hundred, the Seahawks would lose. I doubt the Seahawks looked at this stat, but if they did, I think they would have looked at the number with the glass half full and seen a 3.9% chance of WINNING instead of the 97.1% chance of losing. Instead of throwing in the towel, the team did what they always do, they believed in each other. Faith in each other was able to come naturally for them and because it is not just a “corporate value” for the Seahawks but a value the team looked for and hired when recruiting new players. It is a value the culture nurture’s and protects. One percentage point at a time, the Seahawks believed in themselves and never gave up. One step at a time, they held a belief in each other that they would claw back and they did. This unified team created luck and capitalized on the opportunities presented to them one play at a time. If you are sitting in an office cube and are not able to relate, think, David Horwitz’s newest book; The Hard Thing About Hard Things. When it can’t seem to get worse it does, but you keep fighting. Just a few of the quotes post game from the team reinforcing that the team didn’t give up:

  • “I believed in our offense, I believed in our playmakers and Russ always finds a way”. Richard Sherman (see last years SuperBowl post on Richard Sherman here
  • Jermaine Kearse fumbles 2 passes. Russell Wilson throws an additional two interceptions with Kearse as the intended receiver. Where most armchair quarterbacks would have us passing the ball to a different receiver the rest of the game, Wilson predicts that he would throw the GAME WINNER to Kearse on an audible. Yes, he does just that. Game winning pass to the guy who fumbled twice and was intercepted twice. That my friends, is two brothers believing in each other.
  • “Y’all ain’t gotta believe in us because we believe in ourselves”, Doug Baldwin on fans leaving the game early when the odds were against the Seahawks.
  • Russell Wilson after the game: “I just believed, we all just kept believing in each other and I just believed we were going to make the plays that we needed to make, that somehow we would get it done. I believed we could overcome the turn overs and the mistakes and the adversity”.

2. The right hire for the right company culture.

You can have a Best Place to Work but that doesn’t mean this workplace is the right place for everyone. An asshole will upset the balance created in most Best Places to work but will probably be effective and happy in a culture of fellow assholes. A culture of assholes could also win Best Place to Work if everyone is on board with the mission and the recruiting team is consistent with the hiring practices of looking for assholes.

  • The Seahawks look to word choices of potential draft picks (job candidate) culling those with negative language or finger pointing. They want accountability and optimism. They make a point to hire to this standard and have subtle tests to cull for players that will fit the corporate culture.
  • I love to see the pure Grit of a guy like Richard Sherman playing with the equivalent of one arm. He kept himself in the game and didn’t allow any of the physicians to check out his obvious injury which I can only assume would have sidelined him. After the game he was quoted, “I am 100%. My arm will have to fall off for me to miss the Super Bowl”. Sherman is not a guy that calls in sick at the first sign of a sniffle.
  • Pete Carroll is this HR guy’s wet dream when it comes to CEO’s. In a city with a reputation of some very hotheaded CEO’s, Coach Carroll is the role model. Coach Carroll has a style of encouragement and not laying blame, ever.
  • Carroll gives the individuals on the team the freedom to be themselves. He is on a constant quest to identify and maximize the uniqueness of every player and coach. He is committed to a nurturing environment that allows people to be themselves while still being accountable to the team. Carroll is committed to honoring diversity and respecting individuality.
  • Tom Cable, former hothead coach of the Raiders changed his coaching style after working with Pete Carroll. “If I go ballistic on a guy because he dropped his outside hand or missed an underneath stunt, who is wrong? I am.” Cable says. “I’m attacking his self-confidence and he’s learning that if he screws up, he is going to get yelled at. If you make a mistake here, it’s going to get fixed.” Cable knows  the difference between a boss and a manager.

Yes, it was a great game. It is one that will go down in history books, but for me, it reminded me of why I practice HR and what I love about HR. It inspired me to re-think and raise my game when it comes to building amazing teams and how a cohesive team can make a difference to the bottom line.  I don’t have any Seahawks gear but I will probably go out and buy a Seahawks cap to remember this day of sports and team building greatness. Congrats and thank you Seahawks for inspiring this HR guy.

See you at the Super Bowl,

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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