28 September 2011

Businesses need coaches just as much as sports teams

Even with the best products or services if your team is dysfunctional your business is destined to fail.  Compare this to the misfiring sports team packed full of international stars behaving as individuals and you can see how sometimes the failure of teams to gel can lead to significant under-performance.   

In sport, teams are constantly trained and measured:
  • They have very clear objectives
  • Feedback is constant and instantaneous, with video replays, statistical analysis, and clear outcomes
  • Successes and failures of both individual players and the team are widely communicated

A successful sports team has hands on coaches who manage the team with clear goals. The players are trained in new skills and taught new tactics and winning strategies and are constantly coached. And at the highest level teams are managed by the best coaches money can buy.  When a coach fails at this level the team does not reject the idea of coaching, but instead finds a better coach.

In business teams lack many of the factors that work in sports teams. The typical business team is a group of people, each recruited to fulfil a specific role, rather than to complement the team.  The leader is a working part of the team, often only leading as a result of past performance as a team member. He or she may have little or no training in how to lead or direct a team, and usually little time to even meet with members, let alone the time or ability to coach them.

Evaluation of the team tends to come just once a year, and can then often be a fairly meaningless exercise. The evaluation process rarely results in a more highly functioning team.

So what can business teams learn from sports teams?  Business teams, in order to be successful, have to be formed and then managed in much the same way as a sports team, with clear goals and valued team members who receive new skills, learn new tactics and winning strategies, and are constantly coached.  Failure to provide professional coaching for the business team is just as ridiculous as it would be for a professional sports team not to have a coach.

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