We don’t spend time on strategies when learning how to talk.
Mostly, as babies, we listen to the adults around us, we watch as they are communicating and we do the same.
There really is typically not in a how-to guide to communication for developing humans. But there should be for organizations.
Organizations and teams that spend time with specifics–who strategize about how they best communicate–can make themselves into more effective communicators.
Every organization needs their own how-to guide. AND, they need to revise and rewrite it regularly.
Does this org value top-down manuals that tell people what to do? Do you want completely open, everyone-can-say-anything systems? Some hybrid? Decide what you want it to look like, and not look like, and get to work building it.*
*the “it” can really be anything.
Your job, my job, our job in the world is to add value to others.
Think about what you have to offer and offer it.
See what happens.
- Pour the foundation. What are you all about, Coach? ID your drivers, your values, the things that you insist upon, or wish you did.
- Frame it. Determine the language and lens that you’ll use to see the creation of the program and team. What are the critical pieces? There is no shame in asking your people here either. Get consensus, have great conversations.
- Get the tools in line & get everyone to agree on the floor plan. Determine what the finished product will look like if it’s great.
- Decorate. What’s this season’s slogan? Do you have a hashtag? A secret handshake? A goal that everyone can get in line with?
Number 1 is mostly driven by the leader. The head coach, the person at the top. YOU must have an idea of the central principles by which you’ll drive the program and from there you can, and should, include all of the important people.
Start there. Simple. Not easy.
Recycled thoughts from 2015…
Work as hard as you can.
Do 100% of the things you could do to set yourself up for success and you still might not get what you want.
Our society teaches kids to think positively, work hard…and they’ll get what they want. We’re lying to them. They still should work really hard, have goals and systems to move them forward.
The lie is that hard work will surely lead to success.
In team sports there are only so many starting spots, places on all-star teams and winners. It’s zero-sum. For every winner there is a loser. By saying everyone can, with hard work, be a winner is doing a disservice to kids and to the process of working hard.
Yup, sometimes you do everything right and someone is still better than you.
By communicating this we help kids value the process, really cherish the victories and learn from the losses. Without this clarity they come to think of themselves as losers and many quit trying. This hurts everyone.
When people don’t know what’s going on, they make something up.
Most are uncomfortable with the feeling, “I don’t know,” so they insert a story into the situation. It’s really a part of the human condition.
Do any of these sound familiar?
“She must just be a &#^&$ ,”, or “He’s just reacting to that thing that happened.”, or “I’m pretty sure that those guys are not the kind of guys we want to hang out with.”
Things go south QUICKLY on teams when things are not easy and communication is not valued. Or perhaps good “communication” is not defined well to be understood among the individuals, and so people have to make up stories to fill the gaps in understanding.
What if coaches made it their top priority to define great communication, display the standards through positive and negative examples and talked about it
Would that help?
What if you did the work to know what was truly important to you?
What if you saw all of your actions thru a lens of the values you believe deeply in? What if you really knew what those were?
What if you worked hard to really value the impact of your actions based upon higher values that winning and losing? It might work.
Keep doing, and work harder on being.
It’s tough out there! 50+ positions have turned over in college softball this year. FIFTY! A good amount of coaches–of both genders but more women it seems–are leaving the profession altogether. #coachingishard
Tongue in cheek I have said that women are leaving more often than men because they are “smarter”, and when it gets tough the recognize that there are other great opportunities. I don’t really believe that, however. I think that lots of “smart” people are finding coaching at the college level to be too big a challenge because “we” don’t adequately prepare people for the job.
Yes, it’s a job. One that needs training and deserves our best attention. Like teaching in too many places, however, we think about how people do the job and not enough about what the role of a coach should be. There’s too much at stake to just roll out the balls and hope people get it.
Obviously, sports at the college level is zero sum. Those who win couldn’t do so without another party playing the role of loser. Someone has to win. So, unless are are globally happy with a 50% loser rate, the scoreboard cannot be the only measure of success.
Let’s train people to define success (by this I mean administrators being honest with themselves and others) and devise a plan to achieve most of the goals. Let’s allow mistakes on the scoreboard and believe in our bones that, indeed, things like good team culture, kids enjoying the process and becoming “better” people will indeed lead to positive results on the scoreboard, but not every time and not simply because we hope that coaches and players alike “get it”.
We are better than this.
What happens when a team just loses it’s mojo?
Is this simply a “that’s what happens sometimes”, situation or can it be fixed?
Finding the cause, or lighting a spark…is one more important than the other?
Go back. Go deep. Go internal. Ask good questions about why this team plays or works on the things it does. What are the values at the core of the project or program? What’s its collective WHY?
If you can find the seed of its existence and agree that it’s one worth working for, then you can determine the actions that the group must take to move forward, to achieve and take steps in the name of the WHY.
Identify the WHAT, too. What will you do? What things will you not do? Keep track regularly and enlist a tracking system to hold the whole group to.
These small things are the only things…one piece at a time a team can bring itself back to creating a great future.
How can I help?
What do you need?
Are you feeling ok? Anything I can do?
These are such well-meaning questions, but if a person is really struggling with something–a “life problem” or how to field a ground ball–they may not know what they need, and it’s probably not an answer that would be most helpful.
Offering to provide a fix that neither party knows exists is impossible, and “well, let me know…” is really not helpful.
So, just Show Up for your friend, teammate or partner of any sort. Just be there; you don’t even need to be a good listener, specialize in empathy, or even spend much time to be good at Showing Up.
In sports, showing up can look like being first to something, being prepared, being willing to lose, or fall short. It can be cheering, and it can be pushing; high fives can come in all sizes.
Showing up can be a smile or pat on the back, a “I see you working hard”, or a package of cookies, or a note or card. It can be an email or a text message or a stop-by-to-say-hi or shovel the driveway.
Just do something, no matter how minor.
There are no rules of caring for people, and don’t worry if you don’t know what to do, just show up for them.
Great teams have strong players, committed coaches and trainers, and a strong plan.
Talent matters. To have success on the scoreboard we have to have physical talent, and more skilled athletes is a plus for any team.
To really achieve we need to also consider the spaces between the people. The bodies do the work, and the forces connecting these bodies greatly impacts the ability of the team to reach its best.
In the spaces between we find the bonds that connect the people, the norms of the group, the language used to get things done and the standards of behavior.
The power of connection can make or break a season. These are the things, taken together, that many call “culture”. Connecting people, growing relationships is often thought of as an outcome of a great team culture.
Arguably, it’s what’s going on in the spaces between that is actually the start of a great team experience.