THE BLOG
03/28/2013 06:57 pm ET | Updated May 28, 2013

Lessons Employees Can Learn From the NCAA's March Madness

We're down to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA's March Madness annual basketball tournament. Have you noticed that perhaps your employees seem to be getting distracted with office pools and watching the games, and are a little less focused on doing their work?

Believe it or not, allowing your employees to get wrapped up in March Madness is actually a good thing, and in the long run will increase productivity and expand the way your employees approach their jobs. The characteristics we see in NCAA players and teams can teach us some very important lessons in the workplace.

For example:

- Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is. NCAA basketball players have a "Whatever it takes" attitude. They've made the decision to pay any price and bear any burden in the name of victory.

- NCAA players embrace conflict for growth. When most people run into an obstacle, they seek escape. These athletes have a plan to push forward when this happens and learn all they can from the challenge. They know facing adversity is part of being successful.

- NCAA athletes are held accountable on so many levels. One of the biggest problems is that most people have no means of accountability or a support system in place when it comes to what they're trying to accomplish.

- NCAA athletes are learning machines. They spend hours practicing, studying their competitors, watching videos of their performances and session after session with their coaches and mentors. If the average person adopted just a fraction of their work ethic, the results they could achieve would be endless.

- NCAA players know very good is bad. For the average person, to be classified as very good is something to be proud of. For the great ones, it's an insult.

- NCAA players make "Do or die" commitments. When most people are burned out from the battle, these guys are just getting warmed up. It's not that they don't fatigue; but their commitment to their dream of winning keeps them going. A very important lesson for all employees.

- NCAA basketball players are consistently great. The reason they are so consistent is because their actions are congruent with their thought processes. They have a very clear mental picture of what they want, why they want it and how to move closer to their target objective.

- NCAA players are coachable. Most people will only accept the amount of coaching their egos will allow. Champions like them are well known for being the most open to world-class coaching. The bigger the champion, the more open-minded they are.

- NCAA athletes must compartmentalize their emotions. In other words, they have the ability to put aside anything else going on at that very moment, and focus only on the task in front of them. Another very important lesson for most employees in today's workforce.

- NCAA players think big. Ask most people what they're thinking at any given time, and you might be surprised to learn how many think about just getting by. That's called selling yourself short. These players are fearless and focused on manifesting their ultimate dream of winning the title.

The bottom line: your employees are going to be searching online for the scores, talking about the games with their co-workers and be consumed by what's going on. Rather than fight it, use March Madness as a way to teach your employees some very valuable lessons. Let them watch the games, discuss the big plays, analyze what the teams did right and wrong, and talk about how these same strategies, techniques and teamwork can boost the level of performance of everyone on your staff.