10 reasons why businesses should employ former athletes

If sportspeople approach thier next career like they do their sport, businesses employing them are g

If sportspeople approach thier next career like they do their sport, businesses employing them are going to benefit (c) Scottshotz / Thinkstock - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Attitudes, personality and work ethic go along way when you’re looking for an employee so why not consider an athlete for your business?

In sport, as in business, there are a number of factors that influence performance and ultimately overall success.

One could argue that the most important factor, is the people within the organisation functioning as a high-performing team whilst building a successful business. The question is ‘do you have the right people on the bus, in the right seat and driving in the right direction?’

Recently Sir Richard Branson wrote about the benefits of hiring former athletes and what they can bring to a business. Now I’m no Richard Branson, but with over nine years’ experience of working with professional rugby players and supporting them with their career outside of rugby, I have had a direct insight into what skills and attributes they accumulate over their career in a high-performing team that are transferable into the world of business. Professional sport is a high-pressured, high-performance environment where the margins of success hinge on everything being done properly with elite sports performers doing this day-in, day-out. Attitudes, personality and work ethic go along way when you’re looking for an employee so why not consider an athlete?

There is arguably a long list of attributes you could advocate, but I have picked 10 I believe make elite sports performers stand out from the crowd.

1. Team Players – they have to be, it’s what’s needed to get the result. Even if you play an individual sport, it’s the people around you that help you achieve, the coach, the physio, fitness coach, psychologist etc... Without working as a unit then that ‘goal’ isn’t achievable, or at least takes longer.

2. Learn fast and move on – a substantial amount of work goes into preparing for game day, analysing opposition teams and individuals, analysing themselves, it’s about the mental preparation as well as the physical. Win, lose or draw they must learn quickly and move on to the next game. Feedback fuels positive performance, both good and bad.

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3. The role – understand what roles and responsibilities they play within a team, adapt if needed and lead if required.

4. Common goal – winning is everything and they are willing to do everything to achieve this.

5. Standards of performance - Attitudes & Actions. How they approach given situations and how they react. Elite sportsmen have high standards, if they don’t they won’t last long in the environment!

6. Driven – they fight for their place in the team every week, putting themselves in the best position to be selected, and once they’re in it ‘keeping hold of the jersey’.

7. Manage Change – whether that is a new coach, new players, key personnel, even the game plan itself, they embrace these changes and adapt quickly to get on with the task in hand.

8. Work Ethic – players work extremely hard to be the best they can be, both physically and mentally.

9. Effective Communicator – communicating effectively to make sure everyone is on the same page with a clear and transparent message. With a mixture of individuals old/young, experienced/inexperienced, different languages, it is important that people understand the plan and how to execute it.

10. Motivated – not just themselves but motivating those around them, to get the best out of them. They must keep on pushing forward, even when things aren’t going according to the plan. They deal with setbacks, injury, non-selection, they need to be resilient, deal with these circumstances and continue to push forward.

Athletes can face a huge amount of uncertainty when they leave their sport and what lies ahead can be extremely daunting. We talk about the loss of identity when a player retires and finding it in their next job can be difficult. If they approach their next career like they do their sport, follow their passions, explore opportunities and bring all those attributes mentioned above, then those businesses employing them are going to benefit.

If you’d like to find out more about the Rugby Players Associations Personal Development Program then please get in touch - Jfrape@therpa.co.uk.

For more information, visit the Rugby Players’ Association website.

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