Watching the London Olympics as entrepreneur and the owner of an IT staffing company, I can’t help but wonder if these champions would make great employees.
Short answer – Yes. Most of the time athletes bring drive and determination to a job that makes them great employees. They will stop at nothing to be successful! But not always.
Key traits that athletes may bring to the workplace
- Focus – this includes setting goals and performing under pressure
- Work ethic – reaching a high level in any sport requires self-discipline and hard work
- Competitive Spirit – athletes are driven to win and succeed
- Sacrifice – Early morning workouts, missing out on things to compete usually translate to on-the-job self-discipline
After a decade of training these traits are ingrained in an athlete’s mind and soul.
Don’t assume that all athletes will make great employees!
- Like most people, athletes will only put out their best for a job that inspires them.
- Many athletes tend to have an entrepreneurial streak. They need some autonomy and flexibility to express their champion spirit.
- Athletes need to have adequate time to get up to speed with a new skill set. Don’t assume that their athletic gift translates into super powers in every area.
If you give a champion what they need to be successful, your patience will be well worth it.
My Background In Athletics
I had the opportunity to compete in distance running at the high school and university level (not close to the Olympics but was proud to compete at National Championships).
One of the keys that I learned from sport was how to bounce back from a setback. We are all going to have bad days in sport or business but how we respond to adversity is often what defines us as individuals.
Athletes have the mindset to succeed. When they learn how to transfer this mindset to a whole new career, they can become great employees as they claim new rewards and achieve new dreams and goals.
My Experience with Athletes at Work
As an entrepreneur, athlete and business owner I have had the opportunity to interview, counsel, and hire former athletes. A few examples:
- One of my best friends in high school focused on sport and qualified for the Winter Olympics. This was a spectacular achievement. He was ranked in the top ten in the world. He ended up with chronic fatigue syndrome and unable to do much for a couple of years and struggled to find a job. But it in true Olympian form he overcame some learning challenges earned his undergraduate, and masters degree and became a top professor at a university and a college.
- Early in my career I hired an athlete that was on scholarship for track at University of Southern California. I learned in the first few weeks that he was a natural athlete that came from a wealthy family. It turned out he did not have much drive and he was the first person I ever had to fire.
- At Stafflink Solutions we have hired a number of competitive athletes recently with a great deal of success. All of these former athletes have a drive to succeed and a very strong work ethic. One of the great things that has occurred is they work together as a team. They realize that if the team is successful they will succeed individually.
Athletes can and will make great employees in most circumstances. Beyond the fact that they will keep themselves in shape and should be absent less. Of course, I am a little biased being a former athlete.
Your Opinion on Hiring and Working with Athletes
- Are you an athlete? How do you feel about your potential to change careers and become a great asset to a company?
- Should somebody that was an Olympian move to the top of your applicant pile if you are hiring?
- Can an athlete be trained more easily to take on new tasks because of their background?
- What kinds of questions should you ask to ensure an athlete is ready to make the transition from athletics to the work world?
- Would you hire Usain Bolt?