Winning Super Bowls against all odds: The new way to leverage HR business partners

By: Curtis R. Sprouse

February 2017

The recent Super Bowl provides us a perfect example of how an extraordinary team effort can overcome what appear to be insurmountable circumstances to achieve an objective.

Bill Belichick and his coaching staff architected what is possibly the greatest half of a football game ever played. Tom Brady led the on-field execution of what had to be a perfect half. But make no mistake, this was a team effort. It required each man to perform at his very best. The outcome was victory for the New England Patriots and the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Executives are constantly challenged with what appears to be insurmountable circumstances. The loss of patent protection on key assets, new competitive threats, fluctuation in international economies, failed research and development efforts, political change, and many other factors pose threats to many aspects of business continuity and growth.

Leaders are constantly focused on ways to better achieve business objectives in the face of adversity. These efforts manifest any action including, but not limited to reorganization, realignment, divestiture of business units, acquisitions, and many other initiatives. Human resource departments are responsible for many aspects in support of these efforts.

The HR business partner has traditionally been focused on aligning business objectives with employees in the management in designated business units. They perform these efforts as companies employ the various techniques and tactics as stated above. These individuals serve more as consultants than members of the actual Executive Leadership, R&D, operations, marketing, or sales teams.

Constantly challenging and dynamic business needs require more nimble, flexible and adaptable teams that can react effectively in the face of adversity, as the New England Patriots did during the Super Bowl effort against the Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots were able to take the team they had and at the halftime of the game, focus each player on their responsibility and role relative to achieving an objective.

Many companies fail to develop individuals and teams that can adapt and react in a way that will achieve the business objective. Many organizations we deal with have extraordinarily talented individuals that don’t work as strong teams when faced with adversity. The team dynamics tend to break down and individuals tend to work in silos to overcome adversity.

The data is clear. See Google’s February 2016 article in New York Times Magazine as one example and the Patriots example as well, which proved that high performance individuals that operate as part of a team achieve extraordinary results.

There exists an opportunity to leverage HR business partners to facilitate the development of these skills demonstrated by the Patriots during their Super Bowl victory over the Falcons. There is an opportunity to establish roles for HR business partners as part of operational teams within the organization so that they can better observe, participate, and react to situation in real time. There exists an opportunity to better use data to help focus and guide the development of individuals and teams in conjunction with the establishment of roles and responsibilities much like the Patriots did in the Super bowl.

The Patriots were not just executing a game plan. What they had established long before that Sunday evening was an extraordinary trust in each other. They worked as a world class team. These men know and believe in each other. They spend extraordinary periods of time with each other preparing for games, examining various scenarios they will encounter and practicing for and reacting to adversity.

There exists an opportunity for HR professionals to be integrated members of teams who lead the seamless link between the traditional HR business role and professional development. This approach will facilitate the development of stronger more adaptable teams. We are working with organizations that treat their HR business partners as members of their leadership, operations, sales, marketing, and R&D teams.

How do they do this? The HR business partners take the same assessments, participate in the same training sessions, and are held accountable for personal development in the same way as the members of the team they are charged with developing. This makes them an integrated component of the team. They are more effective in supporting the development of the team members. Teams that are taking this approach are achieving higher levels of success in much shorter periods of time. Like the Patriots, these teams are showing that they can adapt more quickly to challenging situations.

The overall result is better team member integration and continuity, and consistency when it comes to high level performance. These teams balance *Social Acumen with Situational Acumen. They measure where people are relative to these themes and challenge them to develop these behavioral traits. Business objectives are aligned with professional development. Accountability for development occurs within the activities that are required to achieve the business objects. These teams are more resilient, they perform at a high level, and they are ready for the next challenge in the same ways as the Patriots were in the second half of the Super bowl.

If you have question regarding the approach sited in this article, please feel free to contact us here.

Note:*Scores, profiles, or assessments referenced in this article refer to characteristics defined in the EurekaConnect Behavioral Dynamics program

About the author: Curtis R. Sprouse is the President and CEO of EurekaConnect, LLC. Curtis has spent more than 25 years building companies and consulting for hundreds of the fortune 500 companies.

EurekaConnect, LLC uses proven technologies and data driven solutions that objectively and measurably improve organizational performance. For more information please