Creating momentum and knowing how to do so.

Recently I was speaking to one of the team’s I work with, and I asked their leader what was something that appeared to be a challenge they needed to resolve. The topic of momentum came up, and I knew exactly why, as I had seen this team the week before struggling with this concept. One they needed to master as a group to be successful.

Based on understanding the challenge I needed to help the team address, I was prepared to immediately begin working on this concept with them. Naturally the team understood aspects of why they were not able to fully have momentum working in their favor, but the greater challenge was being able to have them coordinate their effort to do so. I would equate the analogy of an orchestra knowing how to read the sheet music and play their instruments well, but their collective timing to play the instruments synchronously was off, and the sound wasn’t desirable.

When a team’s momentum is off, you can sometimes see this right in front of your eyes, and this can apply to both a sports and business team. It’s more visually obvious with a sports team, and with a corporate team, it is more of an uncomfortable feeling you get when you are leading or on the team. As the lack of momentum is occurring, the team members can become very frustrated, and typically this will negatively impact their performance outcome.

Unless the momentum is corrected in their favor, and by someone or members of the team who know how to fix their momentum, the team will continue to suffer. We have all seen this happen with our favorite sports teams, and occasionally we will hear about highly regarded corporate team’s and their products or services that have fallen out of favor when they lost their momentum. You can fill in the blank on any number of companies who have had their momentum negatively impacted, but what you don’t typically hear about is whether and how they got their momentum back.

Since the concept of momentum is more oriented around a feeling and energy level, it is much harder to sort out in a business what triggered a negative shift. However, if you are patient and can forensically look back a few days or weeks prior to the negative shift, you can usually pinpoint what the cause was. The cause may be easy to address (e.g., it was flu season, and more people were calling out sick and there were fewer people to work on completing a project). Or, in the case of a sports team, it might be an injury, or a mistake made during a game which shifted the momentum towards the competitor.

On a sports team when momentum shifts during a game, the coaches have the advantage of likely having seen what happened to make the shift, or they can leverage film to see what happened. Another option is for the coaches to talk to the team members to get their input on what happened. All these methods will help to paint the picture of what and how the momentum shifted, but this information isn’t always going to help you with the now critical factor of knowing how to shift the momentum back your way. In some sports, one way to do this is for the coach to call a time out. This helps to buy the team time to calm down, refocus and orient their mindset and energy levels to being more positive and conducive towards shifting momentum to be in their favor. We have all seen this one technique work well, but it doesn’t offer a guarantee that it will.

So, are there ways a sports or corporate team can proactively do things to regain, maintain or shift momentum back their way? Yes, there are, and below are some suggestions I can offer for you to try.

  • Objectively identify the circumstances which shifted the momentum out of your favor.
  • Once you have identified the contributing circumstances working against you, quickly (if you are in a game situation), and thoroughly if you have the benefit of time on your side, determine what can be done to reverse the aspects which turned momentum against your team.
  • There will be people on your team who are oriented from a talent perspective to be excellent problem solvers. Do you know who they are? If not, and time isn’t on your side, the team who is comfortable with quickly coming up with solutions to challenges will be favored to shift the momentum towards them.
  • It will take some getting used to in terms of coming to depend on the problem-solving individuals on your team, but the people on your team who are excellent at problem solving will best be served to partner with others on the team who are strategically minded. This combination will offer an excellent source of helping you to come up with momentum shifting ideas.
  • Testing out your momentum shifting ideas in business may take longer than you are going to be comfortable with, so be prepared to be patient if you are leading a team that needs help with this. One of the leading reasons contributing to slowing this process down will be that people typically are not comfortable with change and shifting your momentum in the right direction is going to require embracing change.
  • For a sports team, it is more difficult to test out methods to shift momentum when you are not competing, but you can come up with methods to do so ahead of time, and to apply them when the circumstances call for you to do so.

Being able to shift momentum in your favor both in business and on sports teams requires applying a combination of art and science and a dash or patience and trust in others. When you can figure out how to harness the power of being able to shift or ideally maintain momentum in your favor, I guarantee you will like the end results.

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