we are simply "so busy we do not have time to think",
but is this really healthy for your business, customers or
your employees? There are practical lessons-learned from collegiate
or professional sports that are transferable to your business.
Manufacturers, service providers and retailers, and their
suppliers, should to step back and think about the similarities.
directs individual players to achieve the team's objective
of winning the game and ultimately the season's championship.
This is a direct result of focusing on (a) the rules-of-play,
(b) understanding proper techniques, (c) positioning the team
against the opponent and (d) knowing the performance level
of individual players.
together, a team often reaches new heights of performance,
satisfaction and professionalism. The team's owners even receive
recognition for their organizational skills and insight. In
this familiar model, there are lessons for everyone.
ARE THE SIMILARITIES?
coach, a manager's effort begins with a vision of the end
result. What does the business want to be? How will it measure
success? How does the company engage with its customers? What
will be the quality of their product or service? Are they
respected for their effort?
for business owners and senior managers, like a coach, is
having a "game plan" and then working it in-the-heat-of-competition.
It is learning to adjust quickly when unexpected situations
develop. It is blending individuals together who can support
each other. There is a constant balance in letting the players
play, but also knowing when to substitute, use more offense,
defend the against charge, challenge officiating and even
part, of course, is developing the game plan. Second is reducing
the strategies and action steps into writing. Finally, it
is communicating the plan to the team members.
As a reality
check, think about what you did today. Did you know what your
team was going to accomplish at the beginning of the day?
Did your employees (team members) know their roles and responsibility?
Were they prepared (trained and motivated)? Did you monitor
progress (keep score) throughout the day? Did you study the
statistics by shift or product line (seek improvement)? Did
you adjust when results required it? The similarities between
managing and coaching are many.
come in all sizes, shapes and personalities, but the commonalities
are the processes used. Depending on the team, the coach may
have a staff, filled with experts, or it may be just the coach
himself. The same is true for a business owners or managers,
whether he is a three-man shop or a 100-man production facility.
inspires, leads by setting a tone-of-expectation. Typically,
coaches are not micro-managers. More likely, coaches are known
to motivate, inspire, build confidence, guide, direct, blend
and are constantly anticipating the next series of events.
They are constantly critiquing, analyzing, communicating and
leading through others. They can be subtle or hard-and-direct,
but they are always looking straight into reality. They act
both strategically and operationally.
are lessons-learned from coaching. To help you relate, remember
the last sporting event you enjoyed watching. It could be
a team sport or even an individual one. The coach most likely
used these techniques:
a clear vision of the end result, namely winning the game
or the championship. The vision may have changed during
the event, but there was always a positive result to achieve.
The better coaches are always visualizing winning the Super
Bowl, going to the Final Four or being an Olympian.
a good sense of the individuals who can contribute. This
process leads to substituting team members as the game goes
on because of unfolding events. When necessary, individual
players are traded if a specific skill or attitude is needed.
what success looks like over time. Defining success can
be incremental improvement, such as increasing the team's
league rank year-to-year. The long-term vision of success
helps to focus attention on doing the "right things".
performance, holding individuals accountable. Coaches keep
score with statistics. In sports, a coach measures in innings,
quarters, mile markers or sets; managers measure in terms
of shifts, days, weeks, months or quarters. Make no mistake,
every coach measures and evaluates individual and team performance.
critiques performance without judging. The intent is to
evaluate both individual behavior and physical techniques,
based on the results it produces. The coaching focuses on
positive results, reinforced with praise and recognition.
time for self-reflection. It is important that people have
time to bask-in-success, even if it is small. The coach
helps the individual/group see the cause-and-effect of behavior.
They enjoy success; in defeat, they learn and adjust.
who have been coached properly are very different people.
They are better able to learn from their performance. They
are self-confident. And, in fact, they are better overall
employees because they have "learned to adjust"
and "work as a team".
is filled with emotion and logic. Sometimes the coach pushes
(challenges) individuals beyond limits, while other times
the same individual is rewarded with praise. Like a teacher,
the manager/coach needs to be demanding, but respectful of
progressive improvement. They must balance determination with
sensitivity. They must learn to assess and know people very
Associates has been consulting for seventeen years in a wide
variety of industries. We have seen many successful businesses.
It is suggested you consider these coaching approaches:
on the current reality using facts, based on data collected
and analyzed by your team members themselves
"accepted ways of doing things"; change is constant,
learn to anticipate and introduce change into your operations
is essential for continued improvement
direct questions or observations that get to the heart of
a situation; challenge your employees (team members) to
rise to occasion before them; get them involved
individuals to assume situational leadership; leading peers
enhances communication skills, builds self-confidence and
develops tighter bonds within a unit
individuals/teams doing positive things; review performance
frequently, reinforce the positive, but leave room to learn
from mistakes and less-than-perfect performance
the "human side" high on the agenda; use humor
and informal contact to balance work- and-play; remember,
employees are people too and they remain your greatest resource
rewarding accomplishment for a owner or manager is seeing
individuals, work groups and the business realize its potential.
By focusing on individual and team performance, through coaching,
little things can build into greater success. A coach does
this everyday, often without people knowing it; they inspire.
provides leadership and direction, communicates a vision,
directs with specific actions, listens and encourages, critiques
and fine-tunes and motivates and inspires individuals to perform
beyond their capabilities.
can make a difference in your business; it is a worthwhile
Associates is a consulting firm focused on industrial market
research and facilitating strategic change. Drew Hill, principal
consultant, is a certified focus group leader and management