Could you be a Premiership winning coach?

Rnie soccer

By Kristy Lane

Footy finals have come and gone for another season. Finals fever certainly hit our house with full force again this year. And it struck me how good sporting clubs and athletes are at setting and measuring goals. It got me wondering why we struggle so much to do the same in business environments.

Playing for the premiership

On the surface, it might seem obvious – everyone knows the goal for a sporting team is to win the premiership. However this may be a 5 year goal for some teams, not a short term goal. There will be clubs with a different measure of what ‘success’ means to them. Perhaps it’s to reach finals. Perhaps it’s just to improve the number of wins year on year. Whatever it is, identifying that goal and communicating it clearly to ensure everyone in the organisation is working towards it, is key.

For the clubs and players that haven’t experienced the ultimate success, it’s time to undertake their end of season performance reviews. Where did we underperform? What needs to change to be successful next year? What skills are required to enable that success and how do we acquire or develop them? Sound familiar? This happens every day in businesses across Australia.

Throughout the season, how often do you think the players are getting feedback on their performance? Certainly not once, twice or even 4 times a season, the way some organisations conduct their feedback and performance reviews. Players are getting regular, ongoing feedback (multiple times a week!) both formal and informal in nature. Imagine if coaches only gave feedback at the end of the season? Would that deliver optimum performance from the team?

The role of the coach/manager

Listening to the 2016 Brownlow Medal winner, Patrick Dangerfield’s acceptance speech, there were a few comments he made that I think are relevant to all organisations and how they manage employees.

“… the coaches philosophy is that they work for you, they’re here to help you win a grand final, experience team success so they’ll do whatever it is they need to do in order to help you achieve that, in order to help us achieve that. From a player’s perspective that means, I think, you have real buy in with the direction of, not only preseason but the game plan and it’s a real team effort each and every week.”*

If we think about that statement in terms of the manager/team member relationship – would your team members say the same about you? Do they honestly see that their manager is committed to each team members’ success? Do they see that team success and individual success go hand in hand?

In speaking about his coach, Chris Scott, Dangerfield said “…One of the great things about Scotty is that he hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to be a player.”

For me, this serves as a reminder that as managers we need to be having genuine conversations. We’ve all had good and bad experiences with managers. Good managers, even when having difficult conversations, are authentic.

Let’s talk about development

Reflecting on his own development, Dangerfield stated, “I’ve got no doubt I’ve got improvement in myself.”+

Now, if the premier player in the country can stand in front of everyone and say he still has areas to improve, why are we so reluctant to acknowledge our development gaps in the workforce? Any stigma attached to recognising skill gaps should be eliminated and replaced with support and action plans for improvement.

Setting your team up for success

My final takeaway from looking at the sporting environment, is that feedback and development isn’t limited to just the key skills of the players’ role. Sure, the players will be measured on kicking and tackling, but it’s understood that so many other factors impact a player’s effectiveness and the ability for them to play their role. Nutrition, rehabilitation, recovery and even sleep all feed into a players preparation and are duly monitored and adjusted to ensure the player is set up to be successful on the field.

How much time do we take in the business world to look at the ‘other’ influences on an employee’s ability to achieve their goals and find the ultimate success in their role?

Whatever team and code you follow, there’s a lot we can learn from the sporting environment about managing performance and creating an environment that gets the best out of individuals. After all, isn’t that our primary role as a manager?

rnie award


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