Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Culture Comment

In the last 24 hours, a senior coach of a team in one of our major football codes has been sacked.

It is not all that uncommon for a Manager/Leader/Coach to be “let go”.

Another coach of a team in our other major football codes found himself unemployed last week too.

There are several common factors.

In both cases, the team they coached is considered to have underperformed when results are considered against expectations.

The expectations set for each team were driven by the organisation, sponsors and also media.

The other common factor is location. Both are based in Queensland's beach holiday playground, the Gold Coast.

In each case, culture has been criticised and seemingly with some merit. Recreational drugs have been evident, as have alcohol and general behaviours unbefitting elite athletes.

The final similarity is both have a high profile, highly paid player who has not lived up to expectations over the last 2 years. In fairness, in one case performances over the previous 5 years were outstanding.

What is culture?

Behaviour, values, common purpose, teamliness, work ethic, commitment?

It cannot be purely behaviour. The highest achieving club in the AFL is credited with having a great culture driven largely by its leader. Some years ago, this same leader was prosecuted for (low level) driving under the influence of alcohol. They went on to win the premiership just a few weeks later with his leadership being hailed as a major contributing factor.

In the case of one of our Gold Coast based clubs, having a few glasses of wine the night before a game was considered a major sin. Arguably this is less significant than illegal driving.

Culture, good or bad is something that is almost always reflected upon after it is in place.

In my opinion, a good culture comes from some very basic principles.

1.       Communication

2.       Decisions made in accordance with what has been communicated

3.       Decisions are executed with total consistency

4.       Feedback is welcomed and respected, be it positive or otherwise

Sporting clubs and Corporates are often very good at communicating the big picture. Where we want to be, how we will get there, how important “our people” are and our commitment to their growth and development.

It is the other areas that tend to fracture good culture development.

Decisions are not made consistently in accordance with stated objectives, particularly when under performance or financial pressures.

Person A has outstanding sales results so we will overlook their poor paperwork. Player Z is our best goal scorer so we will forget that they presented to training hungover.

As for feedback, all too often feedback is viewed as threatening rather than constructive. This becomes self-fulfilling as team members (corporate and sporting) express views and opinions within cliques, or feedback becomes non-constructive. This usually leads to a blame mentality where everyone is looking for someone else to take responsibility.

All organisations want a good culture, but executing the four fundamental principles to develop this takes discipline and above all, courage.

After all, if it was easy, we would all have it.

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