USA! USA! Forging the Extraordinary Team: From Many to One #SHRM17

Iris Firstenberg told us a story during her master series session at the SHRM Conference 2017 “Forging the Extraordinary Team: From Many to One”, which I am about to share with you all, on how a team came together in two ways: by heart and mind.

Iris Firstenberg explaining the importance of setting standards for a team at the SHRM Conference Master Series: “Forging the Extraordinary Team: From Many to One”.

If you want to think about history, you go back to 1989 and you think, exactly my thoughts. You must be thinking, why basketball? Well, a huge change occurred in 1989, where Olympics allowed the NBA to participate for the first time in history. For three years in a row, the United States won the gold medal by bringing their best players. They were ecstatic, winning multiple games one after another, but they failed to realize that the winning scores kept shrinking every year. Until 2004, when they received the last winning medal, bronze, cutting it very close to winning none. So what went wrong? I mean, they were bringing the best players right? Well, talent wasn’t the exact problem…

Many companies think that if they hire all-stars, then automatically the company is going to do great without a problem. This may be true for the first couple of months and maybe year, if you’re lucky, but it won’t last long. Nothing is perfect and everything needs improvement at some point in time.

Fortunately for the U.S.A Team, Coach K took over and focused on the team’s glory and unifying their minds into one. He noticed that the players were playing for their own personal glory and their own game. They didn’t realize that they were playing to represent an entire country.

This comes to show that some companies fail to help the employees understand their purpose. You need to ask your employees three questions:

  1. What do you do?
  2. Why does it matter?
  3. Why does that (answer to question 2) matter?

Iris used the example of the American Cancer Society organization. They asked themselves the three questions, which led to their new motto:

  1. Research cure for cancer
  2. To save lives
  3. We want to save lives so that people don’t have to be alone on their birthday; so that no more family members or loved ones pass away due to cancer.

New moto: “We are the official sponsors of birthdays”.

Sometimes we fail to realize that our employees need to be reminded why they do the work that they do. If you want an extraordinary team, give them a purpose. They want to feel that they make a difference and make contribution to the company in any sort of way. In other words, employees need to understand how they impact or how important their job is.

I can honestly say that this session gave me a new perspective on how companies are and should be assessing their candidates or new hires, especially in training and orientation. Nowadays, people are disengaged in their company. I’ve worked for about 5 different companies in my lifetime and never has anyone told me why is it important for me to complete these duties or how am I helping the greater good, has yours?

After Coach K encouraged the players to play with their heart and mind for the team, not themselves, the U.S.A won multiple games with him as coach. Of course, some games were lost, but nothing is perfect. You can’t expect to keep winning by doing the same things. Remember, change is good and failure brings new learning opportunities.

If you fall that’s okay, it’s how fast you get up that matters. PURPOSE! PURPOSE! PURPOSE!

I’d like to hear your comments on how your company helps you understand your purpose or how they could if they don’t.



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