Excerpted from an HR C-Suite blog by Philip Espinosa

Well, for starters, it is all about the team. I can’t think of any football team that ever won the season based on the efforts of a single player. From start to finish, each play requires participation from all members of the team.

Yes, an exceptional player can impact the final score. However, the exceptional player cannot win the season alone. Just not possible.

The same is true for human resources (HR). HR professionals that approach what they do as a team are dramatically successful. Those that do not are remarkably mediocre.

The lone, exceptional HR person can be perceived as successful during the short run but will not succeed in the long term. Independent success is not sustainable and they will not last the season.

On our football team, we have a group of generalists and specialists. We have players who have known strengths and weaknesses. We have one or more coaches. All team members know about each other.

The team knows how to address issues, how to respond to what other team members bring to the field and how to keep the momentum. Above all, the team is constantly striving to improve.

Each member has good days and bad days. And the coach shares observations with the team. Members of the team are open to being coached. In fact, coaching goes two ways. The manager or coach shares recommendations and the team member listens and asks questions. Together, they seek understanding and improvement.

Great teams function as a single unit; it is the team that is successful, not just one individual player. Players with ego issues either choose to conform to the team or self-select out.

Margaret J. Wheatley, author of “Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World,” writes “In America, we raised individualism to its highest expression, each of us protecting our boundaries, asserting our rights, creating a world that leaves the individual suspended in glorious, but terrifying, isolation.”

Within a team, individual talent is important, and the paradox is that individual talent serves the interest of the team. The team’s goals are paramount. The team wins or loses – not the individual.

I like tennis, too. Tennis is not the same kind of team sport and is different from football. Are you a football player or tennis player? Small HR offices of one or two may function well playing tennis. For the rest of us, this style of play does not lead to sustainable success.

The best HR teams are football teams. Don’t get hung up on winning or playing offense or defense. Focus on the roles including specialists, generalists, coaches, communication, plans, plays, practice, improvement and striving for excellence.

What does your HR football team look like? List out players and their roles. Indicate for each player their strengths and weaknesses.

Who are the generalists and who are the specialists? Do you have a special team of players?

Do you review plays or the delivery of service? Do you do this to understand what went well and what did not go well for the future?

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