Managing Know How

Fix the processes before you try managing by objectives

When Rudy is not changing the world of business for the better, he is busy changing the world of junior football for the better. Rudy is the president of “the most progressive junior football club in Australia”; I know the club is, because he told me!  Seriously Rudy is not given to hyperbole and relies on measurable data to support his claim. Over 600 boys and girls have directly benefitted from the dedication and commitment he has shown over the past three years.

So what triggered Rudy’s interest and what has his approach been?

Rudy’s eldest son expressed a desire to play football and as a result he was taken to the local football club. Rudy was not at all impressed with what he saw. The coaching seemed to consist of exhorting the youngsters to win by scoring goals or defending by kicking the ball out. Duh! I am sure they all knew that and did not welcome (or more importantly find useful) the constant reminders of the “goal”.

Rather than walk away and find another club, Rudy got involved in improving the quality of the coaches. He searched the world for what was best practice and step by step implemented it. Obviously this did not happen overnight and was initially greeted with much inertia and actual resistance. That is another story; what is interesting is that good coaching moves the focus from the “what” to the “how”. Specifically the goals were analyzed and then broken down into their components. For example goals (the football variety) require possession, which requires ball acquisition and retention, in turn these require tackling, passing, marking, correct positioning and finally working as a team.  All of these require physical skills; ball control, speed, strength and stamina.

The coaching at Rudy’s club is now focused on developing and then deploying these skills all the while gaining valuable experience.  The overall purpose of the teams moved from “winning” to development, improving and learning.

So how does all of this (interesting as I am sure you find it) relate to the world of business?  I am currently disheartened to see many organization’s relying solely on “Management by Objectives” creating a situation not dissimilar to that which Rudy found when he first took his son to the local football club.  Employees generally know what the point of a business is and do not need to be reminded the “profit is everything”.  Managing people by managing the “numbers” (i.e. only focusing on how well they are performing against their targets) will not, on its own, improve their performance. Indeed it can have the opposite effect when organizations become focused on internal report consisting explanations and excuses for not making their numbers.  What would be more useful is focusing on the how including the core skills needed (influencing, improving etc.) to actually make the numbers.

Rudy is of course available to show you how at a football club or your business!

Posted in Change Management