What if managers ran teams like high school football coaches?

I attended the end of year banquet tonight for my son (a senior in high school) and his varsity football team. My son plays nose guard on the defense. It was as usual a grand affair with all players, cheer leaders, coaches and parents dressed up nicely. The program at the Redmond Marriott was grand and so was the dinner.

But that is not what I want to talk about. The most impressive thing was the way each of the coaches talked very postively about every player’s contributions during the year to football. They found something positive to talk about every player, not just some generic comment but a very specific comment about the positive role each player played in a game or a practice session. Even if a player was injured early in the year (like my son) and could not actually play during the year the coaches had something positive to say about the player. What an amazingly impressive gesture that was!! I am sure each of the players was very inspired by all the positive things they heard and went home feeling really good about themselves. I believe that is how the coaches inspire the players to be their best inspite of their various limitations. I am sure the coaches had some not so positive things to tell the players during the practice, skirmish or a game, but that is besides the point. Even more impressive was quite a few players are scholarly athletes – maintaining a 3.5 GPA or better while playing a full season of football. Very impressive!!

Now contrast that with what managers (I include myself in this bucket) do at work? Rather than focus on the positives or the strengths our employees bring to the table, we focus on how they screwed up on a project or assignment or focus disproportionately on their weaknesses. When was the last time an employee heard good things about himself in a public forum where his/her family was in attendance? It is just not enough to say good things in 1:1 conversations in a closed door session once a year, but we need to bring it out to the open and celebrate everyone and their contributions. We don’t do that often enough so no wonder we end up with a bunch of disgruntled employees who don’t give their 100% because they see no appreciation for their effort.

Won’t it be amazing if we had an annual banquet for employees & their loved ones where the managers came on stage and honored each and every employee with accolades for a job well done and say something positive about each one of them? I am sure even the poorest performer had one positive moment or contribution during the year? Can we recognize that? Would this result in a healthy organization where each person is willing to give their 100%? I am willing to bet you will have a very different bunch of people working for you if you only showed appreciation openly.

I am going to try this for sure. Will you?



2 thoughts on “What if managers ran teams like high school football coaches?

  1. A banquet is an interesting idea, but the key point to me here is that people don’t hear enough positive feedback in general. Manager Tools points this out when they say 90% of feedback should be positive & reinforcing effective behavior.

    I’ll bet each of those football players gets lots of negative feedback in “public” (i.e. in front of the team) during practices, so I wonder how they perceive the sincerity of the public praise in front of family members?

  2. I asked my son this morning what he thought of the banquet, the positive remarks by the coaches and asked him the question you asked. He percieves the public praise as a good thing but doesn’t think that by itself contributes significantly to feeling good about himself, but felt it was a good feeling to be positively talked about.

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