WHY IS A COACH SO NECESSARY TO A TEAM?
The good coach
09 March 2020
It's a question we've all asked ourselves, no doubt! - We have all commented on occasion, if that team, as good as it is, could win the same with me as the coach. Let us propose a different point of view.
It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves, no doubt! – We have all commented on occasion, if that team, as good as it is, could win the same with me as the coach. Let us propose a different point of view.
It is very curious, the natural way in which work teams have got hold of the functional hegemony of working. Do you remember the ‘handyman’? Yes, that skilled worker capable of fixing a tap, tuning the car or raising a wall, well, today this profile is finding itself with less market share and this is because nowadays the problems or solutions they have to deal with are more complex, and not only because of the difficulty they may entail, but because of the set of disciplines each of these comprises. It is under these circumstances that work teams are born. As a group of people, with a unique and common goal, but with roles, responsibilities and other attributions assigned according to each role.
My professional activity is closely related to team management, and it is so because it seems that this role is defined as an annex to project management, which is indeed my profession. A project responds to a set of activities (usually multidisciplinary) and with the aim of obtaining a unique product or service in a fixed period of time. It is precisely because of this set of multidisciplinary activities, which are carried out by a group of people, that makes team management not only necessary, but essential.
Football explains everything
A team manager has to achieve three goals as unbreakable foundations, to lead and communicate effectively and in a favourable environment. Although we have proposed team management from the point of view of project management, we could extrapolate it to any area of professional and even personal life, since it is always necessary to effectively manage people to achieve a successful goal, or otherwise let´s see another example. Taken to a language known by all, the most clarifying analogy is football. Think of a coach or a national coach, what is their success based on? Not in their ability with ball tricks, they achieve it through the correct allocation of roles to their players, by protecting their players from the external influences of such mediatized world as sports wold is, aborting conflict reports, and managing those that materialize into problems, communicating to all the members their functions, what is expected of each one, what the team as a whole needs, the objective to be achieved and the impact and importance of the success, as well as the crucial thing of seeking success through excellence, and as if it was not enough, all this in an idle, fun, discerned, serious, responsible environment, etc.
In the career of anyone who manages a team and who obviously wants their work to be recognized, they realize that this prestige or recognition comes with the good work of your team, and that for this it is necessary to become ‘coach’, and do it right. The success of a manager is the success of their team, and under this statement I will allow myself and dare to put on the table an advice for all those who want to do the exercise to reflect on the effectiveness of work teams: Just as we seek recognition, so do our teams, so let’s give the prominence and visibility they deserve, let’s not be so naive to think that they will detract from us, since no matter how well a brick wall turns out, nobody will think it is just thanks to the mason, the painter, or the foreman alone, it is clear that it is thanks to the contribution of each and every member of the team. The recognition and gratification of a job well done, is one of the most effective motivational enhancers there is, and that directly affects the productivity, profitability and quality of the work of the teams.
The team manager has to be the most selfish
The three variables that a team manager handles in their activity and as we have commented are communication, leadership and maintaining a favourable environment. Well, let’s be selfish and think only of our interest, success and prestige, and let’s start by generating the favourable environment we have pointed out. Wow, it’s not what you expected to read! All team management starts here, everything must be done to make sure that your team has all the necessary, it is comfortable, motivated, and satisfied with what it does and the way it´s done, and all this is very easy to achieve, it just takes to communicate with your team. Start listening to what your team wants to contribute to, how you would like to work, what you expect to get, etc. Then, and in order to complete the communication process, give feedback on your opinion, your expectations, your limitations and your power, and keep doing so until everyone understands the work context in which the activity will take place. And finally let them know who the leader is. And this means that they must be aware of who their parapet, their firewall and their umbrella is going to be. The one who will allow their team to work with all the tranquillity in the world, and the one who will demand work, seriousness, correctness, professional and personal ethics, and thus everything necessary to obtain a favourable environment and to achieve the desired success.
Honor and recognition in successful case
For those who do not know, Ernest Shackleton was an Anglo-Irish polar explorer who undertook the exploration of Antarctica. In his curriculum he has the honor of having one of the most epic episodes in team management. This fact is specially curious because although the expedition was a failure, it is counted as a great deed, and the truth is it was. Team management was memorable, so much so that the entire crew saved their lives in an epic that is hard to believe. Shackleton was undoubtedly the hero in the face of his contemporaries and journals of the time, but his management would have been useless, if, for example, Frank Worsley had not had the navigational knowledge he had, or if his men had not had the honor, resistance and sacrifice that they demonstrated, if the team had not responded the way it did, today instead of remembering their meritorious adventure, the resounding failure and the devastating end of Ernest Shackleton’s madness would have a prominent place in the ephemeris. History needs to name the feats and usually this honor is given to the director, manager, boss or whatever we want to call it, but in reality, they are achieved by the teams behind those names. Shackleton was responsible for immortalizing these feats and giving them the impact they deserved, thus giving visibility to those who got the expedition to go down in history, which makes both the team and the manager worthy of the obtained merit.
Shackleton’s example is one of many that we can find, although in order to convince oneself of something, there is nothing like living it. I did a few days of coexistence outdoors, well, the facilitator was able to push the teams to the limit, even sometimes to overcome these self-imposed pseudo limitations and achieve the objectives. The great merit that I attribute to this person is not that everyone tried to meet or exceed the objectives, but the fact that in just a matter of hours, was he able to know how to inoculate enthusiasm, dedication, and ultimately a motivation of such caliber that he made, that the obstacles we would encounter in the development of our tasks, we would turn them into mere check points until reaching the final objective. His methodology is simple, the effective management of an overwhelming communication and motivation, generating an environment of improvement and with exemplary leadership under the motto of ‘excellence’. As I say, I have the privilege of being able to say that I have learned a little from this experience and, above all, how a group can be motivated and demanded all this no generating a resistance or aversion against its manager.
Team management, as any other activity, can be handled with different attitudes, I have tried to reflect through these lines, what I believe is more correct and, in a selfish way, more productive, and what is that ultimately, I try to do on a daily basis. This stance is not easy, since culturally there are still residual profiles of a ‘foreman’ team management thinking, that is, more related to McGregor’s X theory, in which it is argued that man has the natural tendency to letting be carried away by the idle part of our behavior, or in other words, that we do not like working and therefore require exhaustive monitoring and iron supervision. I think this is not only obsolete, but it is wrong. Human beings need to be fulfilled, feel useful, acquire responsibilities and demonstrate that they are indeed a valuable asset. To date I have not come across a bad team in my professional life, which indicates that I am either an excellent team manager, or more likely, people are good professionals and you get the best of them if you know how to handle the three variables of team management, so I can say that starting from a good raw material(good professionals) and applying a little good team management, the rest is a breeze.