Going Yellow – 3 reasons businesses should work like a cycling team

by Gillian Johnson

As we draw ever nearer to the day that the Tour de France starts in Yorkshire, I think it’s key that we pick up on something really important about the biggest cycling event of the year. Whilst the newspapers in past two years have seen pictures of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome plastered across the back pages at the end of the race, what is often forgotten is how much of a team sport professional cycling is.

It wasn’t just Froome on his own who won last year’s Tour, but the team around him who helped him wear the coveted yellow jersey throughout the race. The team helped defend him from other competitors, ensured he didn’t waste too much energy by riding up in front of him to reduce the amount of air resistance he was cycling through, and some even help keep him hydrated and energised by collecting equipment from the team car to hand out.

Each member has different specialties as well. Some are strong hill climbers and will assert themselves fully for those stages of the race, others are known for being able to cover long distances at high speeds and will be on point on time-trial stages and there are some who are just plain all-rounders who give consistent, competitive performances no matter what the situation.

When you think about it, a successful cycling team is kind of like a successful business isn’t it? Each member of the team has their separate role to play to achieve the goals that are set out. So how do you instil a great teamwork ethic into a business?

Have your own ‘yellow jersey’

We’re not winning actual jerseys at work, but it is important that all members of the team gave a clear understanding of what ‘winning’ looks like in a business’ own context. If the aim of a cycling team is to win the yellow jersey, what are the aims of the business? By having a clearly defined goal that every member of the team understands and wants to achieve, a business will undoubtedly be more focused and successful.

Have clearly defined roles for your team

Unless there are specific team members who excel at being ‘all-rounders,’ allow every individual to focus on their specific skillset so that you can get the best out of them. Inevitably in business, things sometimes have to change, and people will have to chip in with other tasks they may not feel best utilises their skills and knowledge. But, by giving them the control in the fields they are specialists in will ensure the business gets the best out of the team as whole that work efficiently together with one another.

Build strong and constant relationships between leaders and the team

In a cycling race, the leaders follow behind their team in a support vehicle with water and food as well as delivering tactical support throughout the race stages; the same goes in business (but I’m sure they can feed and water themselves!). When leaders keep in as much contact with their teams as possible. Both understand each other’s expectations/priorities and by keeping themselves informed of one another can produce better results from the work that they produce.