Want to Be a Great People Manager? Don’t Watch The Ball…

I've got a simple post today.  It starts with sports and rapidly moves off that.  Hang in there.

You know what separates good and great coaches in team sports from average ones?  They don't watch ESPN_Gruden_ the ball.  Regardless of the sport, the best coaches are the ones who spend 80% of their time watching the activity off the ball.  They figure the guy with the ball is going to react to what's going on and do what's necessary.  But the people without the ball?  That's where the action is.

Off the ball is where you have people reacting to what's going on in front of them, behind them, to what they hear - all in an effort to be prepared and be in position to make a play when the opportunity presents itself.  There's a world of activity going on off the ball, but almost all fans and many average coaches focus almost exclusively on the ball.  

You want to be a great manager of people?  A great coach in your organization?  Find the equivalent of "off the ball" for the people you manage and coach.

Examples:

  • A direct report's prep (or lack thereof) to talk to an influential person in another department at your company.
  • Abruptness in email communication that doesn't fit the culture of your company.
  • Giving "gifts" of time and effort in an organization that your direct report doesn't have to - because it's good for them, you and the company - and almost always gets repaid.
  • A direct report's ability to give feedback to people up and down the organization in a way that makes everyone feel like she's looking out for them rather than telling them they suck.

There's a million examples, so let your mind flow.  

Real coaches don't watch the ball.  They coach off the ball.  In sports and in companies.

Be a baller.  Don't watch the ball.   

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