The frenzy around the Super Bowl provides all sorts of ideas for any small business. That around Marshawn Lynch certainly speaks to basics of managing employees.

Lesson 1. High potential employees need support to grow.

Even when you have terrific people working for you, you need to understand and support their growth. Marshawn Lynch is a top level player who clearly does not like responding to reporters and feels his comments are not reported correctly. He has been fined for not speaking to them. Yet the NFL does minimal speaking training. And if you follow the NFL, you know a lot of other players forced into answering reporters questions who do not do so very well.

I have worked in many companies where we invested heavily in training customer-facing people in speaking skills – from the CEO on down through individual contributors. Most of us are not comfortable giving speeches or public presentations – or even talking to internal meetings. Some surveys show a fear of public speaking that is only slightly lower than that of serious injury! And even those who are willing to speak need a lot of practice and preparation to actually be good. This is true for many other aspects of work where you want your people to contribute too.

What are you doing to ensure your people have the right training and development opportunities to grow and develop your business?

What are you doing for your own professional growth and development?


Lesson 2. Check your compensation philosophy and structure.

Does your pay program actually support your values and goals? The NFL expects every player to be available to talk with reporters before and after games and at events. They do not reward such behavior, instead they punish people who do not comply. Punishing people rarely results in achieving your goals. It may get some levels of compliance with company programs but that is not a success measure.

Pay programs are an area in which most small businesses, as well as many larger ones, struggle. Too often we articulate a company value but our pay structure does not recognize or reward it. Top level performers may get pay raises that are only slightly higher than average ones. Incentives may not be aligned with defined values and cultural norms. Team-based organizations may decide pay raises or bonuses based on individual achievement instead of team achievement. Sales commissions may be based on total revenue and not profit.

Take a look at your compensation plans – are they actually paying for what you say you value? Are they supporting your business plan? Your culture?