Football season is just around the corner and with it, all the things we love about fall - cooler days, tailgate parties, team colors and rousing cheers. We anticipate the last-minute nail-biters, the come-from-behind surprise upsets, the weekly fantasy stats. Once again, we’ll watch our favorite teams as they travel the road toward the playoffs - each player fighting for inches on the field, each coach working to train and inspire his players to greatness.

For industrial plant managers, the leap from manager to football coach isn’t very far. Managers are tasked with leading, motivating, planning and implementing. A coach teaches, trains, and works for and with his players; a manager does the same with his employees. As we look toward the season ahead, here are 4 important things that both head football coaches and plant managers know.

1. The turf matters.

“It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes a difference.” - Bear Bryant, head coach, University of Maryland, University of Kentucky, Texas A&M, University of Alabama

Your work environment is a key component of the way you prepare your employees for success. Part of a coach’s job - and part of a manager’s job - is providing the proper gear and equipment for their team members to perform at their peak. Just as a football coach knows his team needs strong, smooth turf beneath their feet each day during practice, you know that your workers need a supportive surface under their feet for their hours of standing on the job.

Wearwell creates surfaces optimized for the industrial athlete. Anti-fatigue mats are scientifically designed to reduce impact to the parts of the body that are negatively affected by prolonged standing, softening the pressure on joints and muscles and improving circulation. Our mats reduce slips, trips, and falls and offer contamination control and electrostatic prevention. These adjustments to the work environment improve productivity and contribute to a culture of safety. And in the same way that professional turfgrass management is both a rigorous science and an art, requiring countless hours of preparation to provide the best playing surface possible for athletes, our Wearwell team works tirelessly to provide you with the most innovative and cutting-edge solutions for your ergonomic workplace challenges.

2. Developing a game plan is critical.

“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” - Tom Landry, head coach, Dallas Cowboys

An effective plant manager needs knowledge spanning multiple areas of expertise. Managers must be well-versed in the nuances of safety, productivity, quality, and lean manufacturing. They must understand the ins and outs of packaging, controls technology, automation solutions, and IT. Just as a great football coach takes his knowledge about each part of the game and integrates it into a detailed game plan, you take your knowledge about each aspect of managing your plant and develop your own detailed plan for developing a safe, highly productive, top quality, lean work environment. Then, you communicate that plan clearly and efficiently to your employees, whether it be information about new policies and procedures, updated safety instructions or training in the latest technologies.

A great plant manager, like a great head coach, recognizes the need to continue learning and is flexible enough to adjust the game plan as needed. When it comes to leading your team, there is no limit to how productive and competent you can be. It’s important to continue learning and developing your managerial skills so that your game plan can be as relevant and up-to-date as possible.

3. Motivation is key.

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” - Lou Holtz, head coach, New York Jets, University of Arkansas, University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, University of South Carolina

A head football coach knows the importance of motivating his players and that developing a strong sense of purpose is the most effective way of promoting this long-term motivation. Great coaches provide this purpose and meaning by creating an environment that encourages personal growth, teamwork and accountability. Players are challenged to consider their reasons for competing, their membership on the team, their interactions with and influence on their teammates. Developing this purpose and meaning is a large investment of the coach’s time and energy, and that investment pays off as athletes motivate themselves and one another toward greater and greater achievement.

In much the same way, a plant manager knows the importance of motivating his employees through developing that strong sense of purpose. A great manager must be a great communicator, one who gives employees a reason to want to work hard by building a strong, trusting relationship with them. It’s important to get input from your workers and know your employees and what motivates them - is it challenge? Recognition? Appreciation? Reward? Be motivated yourself and model the attitude you want to see, encouraging personal growth, teamwork, and accountability.

4. You must rely on your team.

“Championships are won by teams who love one another, who enjoy and respect one another and play for and support one another.” - Tom Coughlin, head coach, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars

The best football coaches are the ones who not only have a knack for calling the right plays but also foster a culture of teamwork and camaraderie within their organizations. As a plant manager, you know how important it is to be able to rely on each member of your team, and how much more productive you can be when they are able to rely on each other. Everyone has a different set of strengths, so the hallmark of a great manager is being able to identify and then utilize each employee’s particular abilities so that, together, your team is able to accomplish more than they each could on their own.

One of the best ways to develop this sense of working together and looking out for one another? Be a good listener. Listen to your employees’ concerns and frustrations. Take real action to fix the things that are fixable. Follow through and then follow up. As your employees feel seen and heard, they’re more likely to be fully invested in their work and in their team.

As you watch your favorite football team on the field this season, you’ll have plenty of chances to cheer. Take a minute to watch the head coach, too, and you’ll have plenty of chances to recognize just how much you both have in common.