No Jerks Allowed: The Norwegian Way

No Jerks Allowed: The Norwegian Way

Back in the 1600’s, John Donne said, “No man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” We are all linked, but often in business we feel isolated or in our own silo. How can this feeling be changed? The Norwegian Olympic team can teach us about creating a team out of individual parts.

This year, the Olympic team from Norway broke the United States’ record for winter game medals by collecting a total of 39 medals in Pyeongchang. This is remarkable, considering Norway sent only 109 Olympic athletes to the winter games, compared to America’s 242. What did Norway do differently?

In an article for Time, Sean Gregory talks with Tore Ovrebo, the director of a coalition that works with Norway’s Olympic athletes. Ovrebo says that it starts early. That’s not a novel concept in America – many kids here are put into sports at a young age. However, the love of sports and camaraderie is the focus in Norway, where they do not allow youth sports to keep score until the age of 13. Ovrebo explains that this helps their youth develop social skills, a team-oriented focus, and keeps them from being anxious.

We saw this play out with Norway’s Alpine Team. In his article for The New York Times, Bill Pennington reports on the 5 rules of the alpine team:

  • No jerks: They want athletes with good character
  • Equality: Everyone is treated equally whether you’ve already won a gold medal or it’s your first Olympics
  • No gossip
  • Protect the social fabric of the team: Do what it takes to get along with teammates
  • Friday is Taco Night for everyone: Have fun together

If you have employees that are isolated or work in more individual roles, be advised: These scenarios can lead to feelings of isolation, burn-out, frustration, and loneliness. Take a page from Norway’s Alpine team:

  • Hire good people.
  • Establish a culture of support for each other whether by meetings, regular phone calls, emails, or Skype.
  • Hold people to a standard of conduct that protects the social fabric of the team.
  • Get employees together on a regular basis so they can share ideas, collaborate, and have fun!

With these steps you can synergize your team. A synergized team has a better chance of standing on the podium! Who knows you may even break some records!

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