Performance related pay is often a hot topic of discussion. However the funding of the GB Olympic team has proved that if the funding is directed correctly, it can produce staggering results.
We won more Gold medals the other day than the whole of the two Games during the nineties, Barcelona in 1992 (5) and Atlanta in 1996 (1).
They were depressing times watching the Olympics waiting for our athletes to fail and celebrating the rare successes that occurred.
Then the lottery funding was introduced which targeted athletes with real medal chances. There was a fascinating interview with Sir Dave Brailsford on BBC Breakfast on 17th August. He is widely regarded as the man responsible for the turnaround of British cycling and his interview can be widely applied to business.
- Work out where you want to get to
- Identify where you are now
- Investigate how you can bridge the gap
- Analyse each component part of the process and ask the question, “Can I do this better?”
- The answer is usually “yes!” so put this into practice.
Some will say this approach has removed the ‘true spirit’ of the Olympics as most athletes are now “Professional”. However, Brailsford gave an example of Sir Chris Hoy at his first Olympics sharing his tracksuit and taking his own bike!
The reality is that the vast majority of medallists are now professional and we were very late in looking at serious funding of our top athletes. I was an International Hockey Umpire in the 1980’s and early 1990’s and worked closely with the GB squad in the run up to the (unexpected) Gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
In the warm-up matches, we played the Australian National team. They all came through the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) which was the state funded training and development programme for promising athletes’ in all sports. The AIS teams that we played had a totally different mentality to GB and focused solely on winning. This funding and development model is now replicated through the Lottery Funding for British Athletes.
Some will say the Lottery Funding of Athletes is harsh. The simple fact is if they do not meet their performance targets, they lose their support in the next funding cycle. As I write this Blog, GB Hockey is waiting and hoping the women can win a medal which will secure funding for both Men’s and Women’s teams for the next four years.
Without a ‘bottomless’ pot of money, we have to invest where we can get the best return and this approach has transformed sport in the UK. The resultant “feel good” factor across the country cannot be measured with the added hope the performances will inspire the next generation to take up the sport. (Contrast the mood in the country now to 2 months ago when we failed at the Football Euro Championships!).
Rio 2016 is the most successful GB overseas Olympics ever and is on course to surpass the brilliant performance in London four years ago. Performance Related Pay has demonstrated it has worked in this environment and many of the lessons can also be applied to business.