Between 1999 and 2014, the San Antonio Spurs won five NBA championships and six Western Conference titles. I’m sure we all remember the lunchpail workmanship of Tim Duncan and his teammates during those years, but did you ever stop to think about how a team in one of the smallest NBA markets could put together such an incredible run? During that same time, the NBA team with the highest valuation, the New York Knicks, won exactly zero championships (and very few games).
The answer is simple: the Spurs had a really good team but a fantastic organization. During those championship seasons, they had marquee players turning down huge contracts on marquee teams to take less money and play for the Spurs. They would even come to San Antonio and sit on the bench, playing minor roles just to be part of the Spurs organization. Other teams (including MLB and NFL teams) studied the Spurs’ system and then duplicated it.
Too often, we as employers get caught up in the hopes of building a great organization by hiring excellent people, when we should be building a great organization in order to attract excellent people. It may sound like a chicken or egg kind of situation, but it’s really not. Until you have a good company, very few good people will want to work there.
Fortunately, you can build a good organization without a lot of resources. Instead, it takes planning and strategy and a willingness to put people over profit. Respect doesn’t cost anything, and a positive environment is more about your state of mind than it is your balance sheet.
In fact, I wonder if being small wasn’t an advantage for the Spurs organization. Many businesses start with a family atmosphere then lose it when they experience growth. It takes a lot of effort to keep your focus on people – both customers and employees – when your day-to-day job is filled with numbers and KPIs. Don’t get me wrong – we need numbers and KPIs to help us run our businesses, but without the people we won’t have any businesses to run.
If you can’t brag about how your company treats its people, you will struggle to attract great employees – period.
Take a cue from the San Antonio Spurs. Success starts from within. Build a great organization based on solid principles and recruiting top notch talent will be much easier.
About The Author
Greg “Hal” Halliday is Anchor’s managing partner and also serves as an account manager, putting 25 years of sales and marketing experience to work for Anchor’s clients. Originally from a small town in southeast Minnesota, Hal is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Duluth with a degree in business and an emphasis in marketing. He also serves as the president of the Highway 2 West Manufacturer’s Association.