After 10 Years We Still Focus On The Fundamentals
By Mim Haigh, Sports Writer – Athlete Assessments
Athlete Assessments’ Senior Coaching Consultant, Bo Hanson, walks his talk at the organization’s Team Day. In this article we give you exclusive access to our Team Day, a day we set aside to review our internal scoreboard, establish goals for the coming year, assess our achievements, spend time with new team members and revisit our purpose.
We look inside so we can continue to achieve our goals and provide exceptional service to our clients.
You’ll get an insight into why and how we do what we do. Importantly, you’ll hear from each of our team members and if you don’t already know, you’ll come to know, what we value and what our goals are.
Bo says, “each day when I talk to our clients about their team’s culture or how to value each team member’s contribution or how to coach someone in a more productive way, I reflect on my own leadership, our team culture at Athlete Assessments and the importance of our relationships.”
“As an organization, we need to be exceptional at what we do. This is critically important, as we work with exceptional clients who are also needing to be at their best every time they step out to compete. I know how our Athlete Assessments team has to practice what we preach.”
In fact, this dedication, commitment and constant desire for improvement is the very reason Bo and Liz Hanson founded Athlete Assessments back in 2007.
Bo says, “we wanted to work with people who continuously pushed themselves to be the best they could be. We found people in sport do this more often than other industries. I love to see athletes and coaches improve and push themselves hard. They know their season can be defined by winning or losing by a point or a fraction of a second. To quote a famous speech, “It’s the six inches in front of your face” that tends to be what matters most in sport. We built this business to chase the tiny margins of how to be the best we can be.”
The constant quest for improvement is a behavior that unites the team at Athlete Assessments. We’re always looking for ways we can improve what we do.
Our goal is to be the global leader when it comes to using behavioral modelling tools to improve performance in elite sport. We developed and patented the only sport specific DISC resulting in; AthleteDISC, CoachDISC and Sports ManagerDISC.
Bo says, “we’re constantly coming up with new ways to live the DISC behavioral model in a practical way. Last year, we launched the Athlete Tough Program, its reception exceeded our expectations and the feedback from clients has been consistently very positive and each client has put the program into action in different ways. We’re always looking to develop new and innovative ways to meet our clients’ needs and the next Program is underway – watch this space!”
Meeting our client needs, supporting them and helping them build performance improving relationships is our passion. In fact, Client Director, Liz Hanson says, “it isn’t only the big Championship wins that are satisfying. Some of the greatest ‘wins’ for us lie in seeing a client completely turn-around their team culture or move from an unknown program into the top 10.”
At Athlete Assessments we have a client retention rate of 96% and this isn’t because we develop a dependency, it’s because we pride ourselves on being able to continue to contribute and add value to our clients’ programs, year on year. We get the foundations and fundamentals right, we take what we start in the first year, build on this and extend, go deeper into key areas and never lose sight of the discipline of mastering the basics. Every sport depends on getting the foundations right, no level of sport is above that.
In fact, Bo remembers his crew pushing off for their Olympic final in rowing, the most important race of their lives and their Coach Tim McLaren said, “remember, place your oars in the water before you drive your legs”. It’s one of the most founding principles of rowing; it’s one of the first things anyone tells you when you learn to row.
Bo says, “the point is, even at the highest level, you have to get the fundamentals right. Nothing fancy or new, get the fundamentals right.”
And, to make sure our fundamentals are right, at Athlete Assessments Team Day we reviewed and condensed our core values.
Bo says, “prior to the review, our team had the following values, which we tried our hardest to live by daily. They were as follows:
- LOVE Sport. We follow, live and love sport every day.
- WORK ethic. We have enthusiasm towards our work and want to make a significant contribution. We do what we say we will do and deliver on time.
- High Performance attitude. We are committed to excellence. We believe 0.1% matters and makes the difference.
- SERVE our clients. We strive to add value in all that we do. We prioritize having exceptional relationships and respect confidentiality.
- TEAM driven. We strive to be the best person for the team.
- Learn and GROW daily. We thrive in a changing environment.
Those who have worked with me will look at our values list and say SIX is too many. And you’re right. I always talk about the “rule of three”. We’re wired for recalling threes…and so we designed a Team Day where a main aspect of the day was to revise as a team, what our team values are.
We consolidated our values into three. These are:
Love Sport, High Performance, and Serve.
Bo describes the Team Day, “ we spent the day at a friend’s restaurant, had a business meeting to discuss how we’re tracking according to our “scoreboard”, discussed ideas for future development and then, we visually created our values by painting them on three separate canvases. We also had a new addition to our team in Jay McCracken. We would have loved to have Mim Haigh join us but unfortunately due to timing and distance, we had to catch her up separately. This was an ideal time to further induct and help Jay and Mim to understand our team in an environment which is less formal than the workplace setting.”
“Painting our canvases was highly collaborative and ideas from everyone evolved into the final product. We uncovered things we didn’t know about each other…I had no idea Darryn could actually draw! He added excellent free hand athlete characters on one of the canvases to represent a selection of the sporting diversity we work within. Each team member volunteered new ideas and organically we arrived at a semi abstract illustration of our team’s core values.”
“What’s interesting about your core values is how they must be able to serve you at this point in time. They may change in the future and this is why it’s always part of our discussions when we have quarterly formal team development days. We also use our core values in our own performance reviews as they form our internal scoreboards. This is how we measure and assess our own versions of what success is.”
Success and happiness are very particular to each person. For example, Bo says, “a great deal of my personal satisfaction comes from being proud of the way I supported a client or helped an athlete with a change. In my role it’s about seeing others be successful and I’m completely fulfilled when others find enjoyment in their coaching or playing life in sport.”
Further Bo expands on the process of setting and reviewing goals, “Athlete Assessments has its own internal scoreboard which we review on a quarterly basis with our whole team. This includes a variety of business success indicators such as growth, retention, client success stories, individual goals and development areas. Most business measure their success with financial indicators and we do too, but we also like to include objective measures relating to our own personal enjoyment we derive from our work. Like in sport, we continue to raise our internal standards but are determined to grow our business in a sustainable way. Our most productive way to grow our business is to focus on delivering quality work every day with every client and following up with each client to ensure we listen and implement their feedback. It really is ‘one game at a time’ philosophy.”
From a business point of view Liz adds, “last year our business grew by 27% compared to our target of 15% and stretch target of 20%. Our aim is to continue to grow at 15-20% while maintaining our phenomenal service. We also gauge our success by our clients’ success, although it’s much harder to set goals on this measure as we know so many factors go into winning Championships. But, we also keep an eye on the ultimate measure, our clients winning, having significant improvements or complete team turn-arounds. As an Australian company, around 90% of our revenue is now generated overseas as we are benefiting from the success our clients have been achieving. We have set some clear goals around doing more work in our home country and some of our new staff hires are to put resources in this direction too.”
Liz says, “as we grow, it’s important that we always keep our client focus and that our clients enjoy the full experience of our service. Often as businesses grow, they lose what made them special in the first place. We are committed to keeping our unique ability to serve our clients, no matter the size of our organization.”
Exceptional service is part of the culture at Athlete Assessments and days like the Team Day remind us that it’s one of our core values.
Team member and Head of Marketing and Design, Abby Kay, recounts her experience of Team Day, “it’s always a great opportunity to get back to the basics and reflect on our team values, beliefs and behaviors. It was really useful to break down our values into three clear and concise points and illustrate them into a design on canvas. With most of our work nowadays being on the computer it was nice to get the paint and paintbrushes out to create our designs.”
Liz explains that Abby’s a great fit for Athlete Assessments, “when we set our company values for the first time all those years ago, a big driver for us in setting them up was to ensure that the staff we recruited were aligned with our values.”
She explains, “to be part of our team you must love sport, see it as more than just a job and embody it in everything you do, inside and outside the office. Every one of us is either coaching or still competing competitively within one or more sports. This is fundamental. With the commitment to high performance, again this is a must. Our clients are driving for their best performance and we must role model and live this same standard.”
“We chase the 0.1% improvement, we take enormous pride in our effort and value our phenomenal work ethic. We tie our success to the success of our clients so we must be fully committed to high performance.”
“With the value of Serve, we see our role as ultimately here to serve our clients. We serve each other as part of the team and we see leadership as a service to others. We don’t take anything for granted.”
“Ultimately, if we provide exceptional service to our clients and each other, the best results will emerge. What I’m most proud of is that we have a remarkable and outstanding team. Individually and as a group, we’re committed to what we do, to love, to live high performance and to serve others.”
Jay McCracken, Consultant and Facilitator who joined Athlete Assessments in July this year says, “It’s refreshing and energizing to work with such determined professionals in an area we’re all passionate about, SPORT!”
While long-standing team member and Head of Operations, Laren Dyer says, “each person on our team has something different to offer. Understanding and valuing these differences at Team Day has brought us all closer together and created an environment where each person understands their role on the team and how they contribute to the success of our clients.”
“Over the years, I’ve watched the business evolve into one which is not only dedicated to the success of its clients both on and off the sports ground, but fully invested in the growth of its people.”
Athlete Assessments is invested in the growth of its people, but equally its people are invested in the growth of the organization. And, as the newest team member of the team and author of this article, I’d like to conclude with Assistant Business Manager, Darryn Dyer’s words because I think he speaks for us all when he says,
“I’m excited to be part of this team and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us as a group!”
Where to from here…
At Athlete Assessments, we are the experts in the ‘people side’ of sport. While we are best known for our athlete profiling and sports team consulting using the AthleteDISC, CoachDISC and Sports ManagerDISC, we do more than just Assessments. Athlete Assessments Services include Sport Specific DISC Profiles, Performance Reviews, Team Consulting, Program Reviews, Keynote Speaking, Events & Professional Development Programs.
At Athlete Assessments we’re here to provide you with excellence in service and to help you be your best. If there is anything we can do to be of service, don’t hesitate to contact us.