Opinion

Terrific teamwork tips inspired by the Tour de France

Terrific teamwork tips inspired by the Tour de France

Cycling fever is taking over Cambridgeshire and Essex right now, as the Tour de France 2014 gets set to whoosh through our local streets in a flash of bright coloured lycra on July 7th!

With one of the world’s biggest sporting events happening on our doorstep, we wanted to grab the opportunity to inspire your teamwork techniques and nudge them up a gear or two.

You don’t have to be a Tour de France devotee to appreciate our advice, but the teamwork in the race is quite complicated. But fear not - we’re going to keep it simple! Basically, a team needs to be selfless and utterly committed to help its team leader win the Tour’s various stages, and even the overall competition.

In such a gruelling race, losing team spirit is not an option. Although it’s probably safe to say that your organisation won’t have such extreme activities in your employee engagement strategy, you can still take a few bits of advice inspired by these elite athletes.

1.    Make the most of people’s strengths

Just as in a team in your office, a Tour de France team will also be made up of people who have their own responsibilities and strengths. Focusing on who can contribute what talents and skills for the good of the wider team is a must in succeeding. Combining those strengths so people complement each other’s abilities and encouraging collaboration can create a powerful team.

2.    Setting the pace

A Tour cyclist may slow down a group of different team members (known as a peloton) to let someone catch up after a puncture or similar incident. Also, teams set the pace to help their team leaders achieve their goal. So you see, adjusting the general speed is essential to people’s motivation and to their success. Back in the office, your team members can set the pace by supporting each other in busy times. Keeping an eye on how each other is managing workload is not just good office etiquette, it’s crucial in avoiding burnout and other problems.

3.    Everyone needs support

Each team has a support car, which carries essentials such as water, mechanics and equipment. Other team members wait on the route to hand out bags of food, drinks and energy gels. Although somewhat in the background, this element of teamwork keeps the riders on form as they endure the three weeks of racing. Also providing a key role is your office support professional who keeps things ticking over. Whether you need help with an admin database or you need a super-organised person to arrange an event, their support is part of your firm’s lifeblood.

4.    Clear communication

Using communications to keep everyone focused and to find effective solutions to problems is a key element to successful teamwork. For instance, Tour de France sporting directors talk to race officials and their team members by radio. Whether it’s warning of upcoming challenges or team updates, getting ahead in cycling’s most prestigious race can depend on clear communication.

5.    Adapting to change

Just as Tour de France teams need to work together to overcome changing conditions such as worsening weather, your team needs to be able to deal with change without losing sight of the ultimate goal. Preparing them in advance of change can help of course, but if unexpected events impact everyone’s drive and motivation, they need to somehow carry on. But developing a supportive teamwork culture can result in people pulling together quite naturally to adjust to new circumstances.

How the Tour teams pull together to get their leader into that coveted yellow jersey is testimony to their ability to unite despite the punishing challenges of the race! In the similar way that team members in a business can pull together, contributing their unique abilities to achieve key business objectives.