Hi Washington Football Family,
Tuesday is the classic "Day Off" for the guys on the squad, where they are focused on recovery, spending a little time with family, and pivoting their attention to the next game. A deep breath if you will. I thought that I would take advantage of that natural break in the week to give you a weekly update on the business side of the Washington Football House. I use a slightly longer format to answer some of the things I expect are on your minds, since 280 characters don't allow you to get details and often bring out the shittiest aspects in all of us 😊. So here we go…
Reflections From Cowboys Week
We are several days removed from the Thanksgiving day rivalry game, yet the taste of victory is still fresh. Apparently, ass whoopings don't age too quickly ;). That said, while the result was magnificent, I am personally most excited about the way the football family Coach Rivera is building leapt off the screen...
Guys were shouting out the touchdown-saving tackle from Terry McLaurin (The Captain) as the play of the game. Jeremy Reaves came off the practice squad to make HUGE plays in the game (shout out to all my fellow practice squad alums in the League!). Dwayne picked up Alex on the sideline in an exemplary show of camaraderie and selflessness. The whole team celebrated our final touchdown while Ryan Kerrigan retrieved the football for Montez Sweat, knowing the young man would want to keep it as a memento… I could go on and on.
Not everything will fall our way every week; football is a capricious lover. But this culture, the family Coach is creating, can and will be a constant for this organization going forward. As a former player, I know great talent and a family atmosphere will produce consistent wins over time.
Business Question Of The Week
How do we think about building a family atmosphere within the business components of the organization?
To me, there are many components that make up a family, but there is one at the center of it all that trumps all the rest: trust. We can have differing opinions (I'm sure we all heard plenty of those at the dinner table last week!), but ultimately a healthy family atmosphere is built on a trust that everyone has each other's best interest at heart and is collectively working towards a positive end goal.
Because we love frameworks at my former company, we put the components of trust into an "equation" (not a real one, before you smarty-pantses start with the snark :)...) that you can check out here:
Let's break this down even further. Credibility is being knowledgeable, no matter the topic. It can be on hot-button issues or something as uncontroversial as practice field renovations. Our decisions will be made based on the best available information, and we'll articulate decisions in clear terms; that hopefully gives people faith that what we say to them is always going to be honest, especially our fans. For example, there's no secret decision made on the location for a new stadium yet. There are no sites selected, and we are approaching the entire process in an open-ended and open-minded way; I promise you will know as things progress. I don't do backroom, under-the-table deals. :)
Reliability is saying what you mean, doing what you say, being consistent and meeting your obligations. An example of this is after our internal culture and health assessment, we are following through to have transparent debriefs with every department this week. It takes a lot of time, but we're doing it anyway because we said we would, and it's the right thing to do. This blog is a commitment we've made to be transparent to our fans, and we will continue to do that for the entire season. (which hopefully will continue well into the playoffs!)
In the future, we will also be rolling out some opportunities for the fan base to interact with us in a more formal setting. We want to show that we are dedicated to being more engaged with our fans, and you can take that to the bank!
Personal connection is about moving beyond relationships that are solely transactional. This is so that our employees don't feel like just a cog in a machine, but are recognized as human beings with interests and passions within and beyond their careers.
By bringing in our new Chief People Officer Andre Chambers, one of the things that we're looking at is not just doing performance reviews to evaluate our personnel, but to also understand what their goals and objectives are to achieving their career goals. We want to design our organization to develop pathways that enable personal growth. We should be helping people achieve their career dreams, not just taking home a paycheck. Yes, it's great to work close to the game of football, but that idea of just brutally grinding out the work week when the environment is lacking ain't it. We're lucky to have the people that we do in this organization, not the other way around. We can be a lot more for the people who work here.
We also have a massive opportunity to strengthen our relationship with our alumni through personal connections. We can facilitate connections across generations of former players. We can build closer personal connections to fans once we are back at full capacity at FedEx in 2021 when we will have a formal program for alumni to connect with fans on game day. This is something Julie Jensen, our SVP of external engagement and communications, is crafting with Doug Williams, and we're bringing in a full-time director to lead that program. That's how much commitment we're putting into establishing real, meaningful connections across our alumni network.
Self-orientation means you think about yourself and your own objectives most. This is something we need to minimize in our organization in order to build trust. The biggest pivot for us is to go from a lens that focuses primarily on our income statement to one that looks at the fan and employee experience. In the long run, a healthier, happier workforce is going to be more productive and creative over time, so it is easily worth making additional HR and talent-related investments to move us that direction.
Similarly, there may be some substantial near-term investments that will make the fan experience at FedExField more enjoyable in the medium term. The in-person guest and fan experience is a major priority for us, and we are in the process of revamping our entire guest experience. And that includes bringing in external sources that have a track record of knowing how to infuse that innovative thinking into our organization.
Once people believe that you will do what you say, know what you're talking about, are personally connected to them and not our own aims, you start to have a family. That foundation will build a new and powerful era for this franchise and carry us into a bright future.
Encounters Of The Week
One example of us already connecting with our extensive alumni network is our annual Homecoming Brunch. With our game against the Cincinnati Bengals not open to fans, we decided to host the event virtually with Dan and Tanya Snyder, Doug Williams, Julie Jensen, and myself speaking with about 50 of our alumni.
I shared with them many of the plans for the future that I just detailed in the section above, but more importantly, it was a moment where Dan and Tanya expressed honesty about where the organization has been and that they are recommitted to ensuring a strong, connected and vibrant community. They made it clear they are going to make the necessary investments and strategic choices to have an organization and reputation that the alumni are proud of.
It was a great moment to hear directly from our alums because they're excited about the fresh changes in leadership and some of the new direction they're seeing from us. We also heard some ways we can better support them. That input is not falling on deaf ears. For example, we are already committed to starting a weekly newsletter that keeps them aware of what's happening in the organization. You may have also seen some of our "Unfiltered" programming like "The Legacy," which featured Joe Jacoby last week. We cannot lose our history, and our alumni are the best representation of that. As we move forward, we want to make them stronger, more involved faces of our organization.
Well… by the time this goes to print, what's next may have changed. Our (for now) Monday game against the Steelers may be on a different day, in a different location or experienced some other change. But Coach will have the guys ready, and I'm certain they will be solely focused on the game vs. the uncertainty surrounding it.
This is a truly testing moment for the entire league and nation when it comes to COVID-19, but we have the technology, the data and the right processes to get through it. The only thing we can control as a team (or a society) are individual decisions. It's on all of our players, coaches, and staff to be trustworthy and embrace the fact that each of our individual decisions will affect our football family in a material way. In this moment, we each need to shed self-orientation and think of the collective good ahead of personal gain.
I believe we will do this and, as a result, be confident that whatever we end up facing in schedule changes or other complications are much better than the next best set of outcomes.