Great article to start the blog, how do you lift a very talented team so that they realise their potential? Leadership is the key (always is), individual and team leadership. A clear vision for what is required with no ambiguity and a culture that the team is willing to live to and be accountable for.
I was recently asked by a talented group of sportsmen if it was me or the coaching staff that tells the team what its culture is………?
The answer is no it is not the coaching staff although they help monitor it, it is the team (the team is the players, the leadership team and the support staff). However there is a price to pay and that price is once again responsibility and accountability. If we set standards of behavior and performance we hold to them and if we do not there are consequences for not doing so. No consequences then nothing ever really happens.
How do we do this with a talented individual who is a game winner/changer, who does not want to abide by accepted standards of behavior? Easily, do not select them if their behavior is detrimental to the rest of the team and they are unable to compromise. To do this it requires strong leadership and the best type of leadership comes when your peers are also prepared to step up and tell you that your behavior is letting the team down. I often get a team to write down on a piece of paper all of the things that the other individual team members bring to the team (things that they need to continue doing and is important to the team). I then get them to write down the one thing that is detrimental to the team performance and that they should stop doing.
Without constructive feed back one cannot grow – once a team learns to do this properly it empowers a team and more importantly allows us to reach our true potential.
Principles for Constructive Feedback
Feedback is a way of learning more about ourselves and the effect our behaviour has on others. Constructive feedback increases self-awareness, offers options and encourages development, so it is important to learn to both give it and receive it. Constructive feedback does not mean only giving positive feedback. Negative feedback, given skilfully, can be very important and useful. Destructive feedback means that which is given in an unskilled way, which leaves the participant simply feeling bad with seemingly nothing on which to build or options for using the learning.
1. Start with the positive
Most people need encouragement, to be told when they are doing something well. When offering feedback it can really help the receiver to hear first what you like about them or what they have done well e.g. “I really liked the way you responded to Alison, however, on this occasion I did feel that you made an assumption about her without checking it out.”. Our culture tends to emphasise the negative therefore the focus is likely to be on mistakes more often than strengths. In a rush to criticise we may overlook the things we liked. If the positive is registered first, any negative is more likely to be listened to and acted upon.
2. Be specific
Try to avoid general comments which are not useful when it comes to developing skills. Statements such as “You were brilliant!” or “It was awful” may be pleasant or dreadful to hear but they do not give enough detail to be a useful source of learning. Try to pin-point what the person did which lead you to use the label “brilliant” or “awful” e.g. “The way you asked that question just at that moment was really helpful” or “By responding that way you seemed to be imposing your views on the student”. Specific feedback gives more opportunity for learning.
3. Refer to behaviour that can be changed
It is not likely to be helpful to give a person feedback about something over which they have no choice or control e.g. “the size of the student group is too big”, is not offering information about which the person can do very much. On the other hand, to be told that “It may help to think of ways of breaking the size of the group down” you can give a person something on which to work.
4. Offer alternatives
If you do offer negative feedback then do not simply criticise but suggest what the person could have done differently. Turn negative feedback into a positive suggestion e.g. “You could try breaking the large group down into smaller groups and use activities such as small scale research projects and seminar presentations”.
5. Be descriptive rather than evaluative
Tell the person what you saw or heard and the effect it had on you, rather than merely something was “good”, “bad” etc. e.g. “Your tone of voice a you said that made me feel that you were concerned” is more likely to be useful than “That was good”.
6. Own the feedback
It can be easy to say to the other person “You are…”, suggesting that you are offering a universally agreed opinion about the person. In fact all we are entitled to give is our own experience of that person at a particular time. It is also important that we take responsibility for the feedback we offer. Beginning with “I”, for example, “I thought that…” or using “In my opinion…”, is a way of avoiding the impression of being the giver of “cosmic judgements” about the other person.
7. Leaving the recipient with a choice
Feedback which demands change or is imposed heavily on the other person may invite resistance, and is not consistent with a belief in each of us being personally autonomous. It does not involve telling someone how they must be to suit us. Skilled feedback offers people information about themselves which leaves them with a choice about whether to act or how to act. It can help to examine the consequences of any decision to change or not to change, but does not involve prescribing change.
Preparation for the trip to Bangladesh/India has gone well. I am now sat in Dhaka airport waiting for the final flight to Chittagong. I had a deep tissue massage yesterday which certainly hit all the problem areas, so my body is now ready to begin the training camp.
I have a couple of days doing recces before the team arrive and then we are into a full on schedule of matches and training. Can’t wait.
I have just received a message from a friend who told me they had whip lash from a skiing injury over Christmas but my sympathy evaporated when he then told me he was off to Switzerland this weekend to ski.
Now two days in to the camp and we have had a rest day with stretching. All recces done and tmw we begin to (Go back over the basics). We have just spoken with another international team who have emphasized a simple game plane (it always should be) and STICK TO BASIC DRILLS. Hit the ball straight and bowl the ball straight.
Also proud of a number of people this week. My brother and his family for dealing with great adversity.
My son for performing excellently, I am a very proud dad.
Have a wonderful week ahead. I will send a few photos of the training when I can.