Know Who Your Players Are

Know Who Your Players Are

As we draw near to the Big Game this month, I’ve been thinking a lot about how similar professional football is to business.  Each week during regular season, players gear up and coaches make decisions that impact the current game, but have repercussions that will be felt for the whole season (and if they succeed for the post-season and the big game as well). All of a season’s work leads up to one big game.    

The decision about who is starting and who is on the bench is not an easy or quick one.  The long process of designating starters and backups is completed before the season begins – and it doesn’t end there.  Coaches must continually assess players’ performances before, during, and after each game.  One injured starting player could easily derail plans for the season unless each backup player is fully prepared and ready to jump into the game.  And it is critical that the substitution does not disrupt the “gel” of the team. 

Much like football, it is necessary to know who your players are in business. We learned from the past 2 years that 5-year plans are a thing of the past and the only constant is change.  We started with an unprecedented pandemic causing mass layoffs and the shutdown of countries around the world, followed by the great resignation, record job openings, then quiet quitting; and now we have inflationary pressures and lack of funding causing mass layoffs in certain sectors and the threat of a recession.  Are you dizzy yet? We’ve been battered and bruised and unable to predict what is coming next.  

So, what are we to do when the only certainty is uncertainty?  Will you be laying off part of your staff? Or will you be facing a hiring crunch and not have the people in place that you need to grow? In either case, ensuring you have the right talent on the bench is the key to not just surviving, but thriving.  

Much like an NFL coach, you need to know who your players are before you need them. Who are the people on your team? Look at the pieces you have. What skills and style do they possess? Where do they fit into the bigger picture? Do you have a backup player ready to play if your starter gets injured? Who’s your “next person up”? Do you have an emergency player ready to step in?  It’s too late to come up with a backup once you need it. Just ask the Denver Broncos and their infamous no quarterback game during the 2020 NFL season, when 4 quarterbacks were sidelined on the COVID list.  

Good coaches understand the mechanics of the game.  Great coaches also understand the mechanics of each player.  What are their strengths, weaknesses?  What natural talent needs to be developed?  What blind spots need to be corrected?  Is this player a good fit in his current position, or would he be better in a different position?  Great coaches unknowingly practice Talent Optimization. 

Talent Optimization answers important strategic questions and aligns your team. It’s useful in assessing and aligning both your current team or a team you assembled in response to layoffs or hiring pressures. It works by tapping into your individual team players’ strengths and weaknesses and creating a cohesive team ready to hit organizational goals.  

As a Change Management Consultant and Talent Optimizer I have the unique lens through which I see both change and the talent necessary to survive or sustain that change. By applying the practices of Talent Optimization to your unique situation, you’ll be able to see what your team can look like at its best.  

Be a great coach! If you’d like to look at your team and get ready before you need to be ready – I can help you understand your players, take another look at your game (strategic goals), and make sure you have the best starting lineup and backup bench. 

If you’d like to know more, please contact me at to set up some time to chat. 

This article was originally published by Adrienne Guerrero on LinkedIn.

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