As a coach, your choices can impact the fate of your team members, so take pains to put the right people in the right places.
I didn’t grow up in a very sports-centric family. We never went to any kind of college or professional sporting events, my dad never had “the game” on TV, and I’ll admit I only attended one high school football game. Nevertheless, I now follow horse-sports like my own version of the NFL. If I had been born into a different family or had different early experiences, I have no doubt I could have easily ended up a sports fan.
So what went wrong for me? Let’s back up to the third grade when I think everything began. Because I wanted to participate in the same activities as my friends, my parents signed me up for soccer. We didn’t have any kind of try-outs at that age, they just grouped us randomly into different teams and sent us on our way. I will be the first to admit I probably wasn’t the most coordinated kid, but I could run fast and enjoyed the game. But my enthusiasm for soccer quickly waned. My team sucked; in fact, we sucked so badly we only scored one goal the whole season – and it was against ourselves. After this foray into team sports, I chose not to continue.
So why was my team so bad? Did we have a bad coach? Was it just a stroke of luck that the most awkward, bumbling, un-athletic third-graders all got put on one team? Were parents more involved in team picking than I realized, and my non-sports family got me put on a team with other misfits? While I will never know the answers to these questions, what I do know is that my first experience with soccer played a part in dictating the rest of my sports career. Was I destined to be the next Mia Hamm? Probably not! If I had been put on a better team, coached better, or just lucky enough to have played against even worse teams, I bet my attitude about the sport would have been different, and I would have stuck with it longer.
If you’re a leader of an architecture or engineering firm, you coach people and pick teams. Keep the following in mind when it comes to assembling project teams, marketing teams, or any other group in your organization:
- Selling is about confidence! Nurture confidence in your next generation by giving them challenging but manageable jobs. Just as baseball players get on “hot streaks,” so do successful marketers, PMs, and BD people.
- Pick your teams wisely! Don’t put a bunch of inept, struggling, introverted people on the same team and expect them to magically thrive. It’s not going to happen. Likewise, even your best person is going to get frustrated and be less productive if you consistently put them on teams with people who are difficult to work with. Put them on a team with other fun, creative people and see how much better things go!
- Believe in the power of training and coaching. If someone is having a hard time with something, do something about it, don’t immediately write them off as someone who will never do well. Likewise, a poor coach can quickly steer a decent team in a bad direction.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to get your team pumped up and on a winning streak this summer! Most importantly, don’t forget to celebrate everyone’s successes, even if they seem small!
Christina Zweig Niehues is Zweig Group’s director of marketing. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.