Wednesday February 3, 2010
Ben Buet, business development manager, learns how to get the most out of people at work using skills learnt on the cricket field.
I first went to Australia to play and coach cricket at the tender age of 19. At such a young age, this was really was a great experience and taught me a lot about myself. While getting used to being away from my family and friends I was also given the responsibility to perform both as a cricketer as well as a coach.
This experience was very similar to my job at learnpurple. Without very much work experience I was given the responsibility to take the reigns of our elearning division. Both occasions were originally daunting, but like a lot of sports people I tend to perform my best under challenging circumstances.
I have gone on many of our learning bites and purple leadership programmes, and listening to some of the tips and principles for managing people, I kept thinking about my cricket team. It got me thinking how much I have learnt from being a coach that applies to my work here in the office.
Here are my top tips:
Within a team and a company everyone needs to have the same goal. It's not about your individual agendas; it's about the team winning, or the company succeeding. Make sure your company's mission statement is communicated often and consistently.
You need the support and encouragement of your team. I have found that however challenging the task is - it can be achieved with the right support behind you. Whether it's trying to close a tricky business deal or chasing a lot of runs; if you work together as a team and back each other up you can make it happen.
To get the best from people you must listen to them all. In the words of Walt Disney: 'You never know where your next best idea will come from.' When trying to get a batsman out, it's not just the captain and the bowlers who must have a strategy. Anyone from the wicketkeeper to the furthest fielder might have a valuable insight on how to dislodge an awkward player, and a good captain makes everyone feel like they have a part to play. Likewise in the office, everyone must feel like they are integral to the success of the company and that their opinion will be valued.
We get some our best ideas at learnpurple when we are all chatting over lunch, because we have people from different departments bouncing ideas off each other and bringing a fresh perspective.
Every position is important
As with all teams, many I have played for have had players who don't bat or bowl as much as others. Often these are the guys who are a great fielder or motivators. Some people might say these guys aren't as important as some of the other players; but you will find if you take them out of the team things tend to fall apart. These guys kept the team balanced.
This can be the same in many companies. Certain roles may be perceived as being more important, like income generating roles for example. But without the admin guys they wouldn't be able to turn the business around as efficiently. It's about making each member realise their worth and everyone else recognise their contribution.
Each individual needs to be coached differently
This is especially important when captaining or coaching people in cricket. To get the best from people as a captain, you need to know how each player reacts to feedback. It's very easy to captain a team that is doing well. The true test is when it isn't going so well. That's when you need to manage each individual differently to get out of the situation.
At learnpurple we use a psychometric test called SDI (Strength Deployment Inventory). This is really good to find out how people are 'normally' as well as how they react in conflict. You can then find the best way to manage this. In the office or on the pitch - if you can find a way to communicate to people that is right for them, you will get much better results, faster!
It is essential to have strong leadership if you want to keep improving your team. This not only gives everyone a clear sense of direction but also always gives people a role model for how to behave, and for inspiration.
A great example of this would be Freddie Flintoff in the Ashes last year. Every time England needed a lift he would come on to bowl with lots of fire and energy. This got the rest of the team bubbling and gave everyone a massive lift, they felt the game was theirs to win. In turn the other bowlers would lift their game to try and match what Freddy was doing. It's so important for leaders to act how they want others too (none of that do what I say and not what I do business!).
Here at learnpurple we have a great leader in Jane Sunley who at every monthly and quarterly meeting has a chat with us and always leaves us with the drive to go out and get the results over the coming months.
Do you have any tips you learnt from an unexpected place that you find useful at work?