3 Life Lessons I Learned Coaching Youth Basketball

I coached youth basketball when my kids were young. I loved the game and I love kids so it was a great match for me. Basketball is a perfect mix of skill and strategy. This was also evident in the kids. Some where great athletes and some made it through being smart and working hard. I was a student of the game. I studied and observed different defenses and offenses and also what made up good mechanics and personal skills. While I was the teacher when it came to basketball, I learned some valuable lessons that have been ingrained into the way I manage people and the way I look at the world. Yes, these are big statements, but they are true. I still go back to these truths and use them for teaching moments when I am mentoring or problem solving.

photo-1416862291207-4ca732144d83

Here are these truths:

Talent Blindness: Some coaches are great at judging talent but most are not. The reason is not because they are not skilled or unintelligent- they are human. We have a very tough time being completely objective. Coaches will tend to provide preference to the kids they like. The kids that make them feel good. The kids of the parents they like. The same can be true in the business world. We provide preference to the folks that are like us. The ones that make us feel comfortable. The ones that make us feel good about ourselves. We can be so talent blind! We judge talent based on how we see the world and how we feel. We can easily miss a diamond because they are different, peculiar and not like us.

Another Set Of Eyes: When I was coaching, I would sometimes get caught up in concentrating on the nuances of the offense and defense and miss big things that were going on. Sometimes I would leave kids in the game too long. Sometimes I would miss that a particular player had a hot hand and was scoring and I would inadvertently pull them out of the game. Its hard to watch everything. No really its impossible. I valued my assistant coaches to speak up and set me straight. In business, we can miss the big picture while we are drilling down on particular issues. I must have a group that I empower to tell me whats really going on and have the guts to confront me when I am doing something stupid. A support group. A few trusted advisors to help us avoid getting caught up in the game.

Emotion Cloud: I struggled with the referees. Kind of a lot. They were often times volunteers and high school kids and their skill level varied. Some were pretty good and some were just horrible. I remember throwing my clipboard on the gym floor of an auxiliary gym once in the middle of a game and then- the gym went completely silent! Not a shining moment for me but a great lesson. You just can’t let emotion take over. People will let you down and do things that are wrong and out of line. You can count on it. It’s how you react that matters. Once I let emotion rule, my head goes to mush and all I got is to fire back. A poor example of leadership no matter where you are. Keep your cool and keep your head!

These are a few of the valuable lessons that I learned while coaching. It’s funny how I consistently learn while teaching others! Learning just never ends. I am always seeking the lesson in things that happen to me. How about you? Are you learning as you go? Do you see the world as a giant classroom? Stay alert to things going on around you. You will be better for it. I promise!

So what do you think? Have you learned while you are teaching? Did this story remind you of a lesson your learned? Click on “Leave A Comment” and tell me what you think!

Advertisements

How to Create a Drama-Free Workplace

Most of us love a good drama at the movies, but not so much at work.  Office drama can be draining.  It’s hard enough to keep the plates spinning without the added pressure of drama.  It seems like finding the right mix of folks is like a science experiment.  Unfortunately, in a drama filled environment, we often hire the person who is non-threatening instead of the best candidate.  Then one day you look up and wonder how in the world these folks ended up on the payroll!

SW_WillMilne1

The root of most office drama is insecurity.  The problem is that it’s not easy to see during the recruitment process.  You may have a candidate that appears confident and assertive, yet they have social or personal issues that won’t appear until they are introduced into the mix.

Intent can also skew your thinking.  In a recent post in Forbes, (link here) Erika Anderson points out that staying positive with others intentions naturally diffuses drama.  All you have to do is believe their intentions are good.  Seems easy- but for some that live their lives in the negative zone, it can be very difficult to trust that other coworker’s intentions are good.

Many managers see drama as purely a result of immaturity.  But it often goes much deeper than that.  Many times there are wounds or events from the past that have shaped the person into who they are.  Don’t always dismiss poor behavior as simply a result of immaturity.

Many of the deeper issues that result in office drama are not easy to fix.  There is likely a long process involved and it may even require professional attention.  Aside from the complex cases, there are strategies to address some of the common office strife.  Here are a few of them:

Dump the Stupid Rules:  Drama feeds off of petty infractions of the rules.  As a manager you may think this is counter intuitive.  You may be tempted to add more rule when you have drama.  The fact is if you give more power to the “rules police” you will only add fuel to the fire.  Turn the conversation back to performance.  If the person is doing a good job, then give them grace on the rules.  Get rid of as much of the petty rules as you can and you will benefit in the end.

Choose Your Managers Wisely:  In the book “Managing for People Who Hate Managing”, Devora Zack divides managers into two categories, Thinkers and Feelers.  Both can be great managers but you have to understand that they see the world differently and will react differently.  Drama feeds off of emotion.  It is very important that your managers are emotionally intelligent.  They must understand there own emotions and how they are affected by the emotions of others.  Just dismissing drama as stupid or silly emotion will not solve the problem.  You can’t tell someone who is upset that they are just being a baby.  There are great management strategies on how to be empathic, yet not feed the fire.  If you have a manager that is unskilled they will react incorrectly and make poor decisions that will only continue to feed the fire!

Watch for Type A’s:  The talented and driven are often a target for the drama group.  They are threatening to the status quo.  They want more.  They are used to getting what they want.  I have witnessed “the pack” systematically run off talented folks.  You need to watch for this and address this as soon as you see it.  Find the leader of the opposition and discuss the situation objectively.  Reassure them that this person is not threatening their position and reaffirm that they are not going anywhere and they need to develop a good working relationship.

React Well:  Be very careful how you react to the situation.  Strong reactions feed the drama fire.  If there is a situation that needs to be addressed, do it quietly and without fanfare.  Be very careful about getting both parties together to “hash things out”.  I have done this in the past and have had both good and bad results.  Try to respect the position of the person who is upset, but be very careful that you don’t add emotional fuel to the fire.

Watch For Alliances:  The office can be similar to an episode of  “Survivor”.  There are alliances that will naturally form, and you must be aware of who is where.  Sometimes you can break up problem workgroups.  The main thing is to see through the drama and find the alliance.  Seek out the leader and discuss the problem directly with them.

Don’t Let It Smolder:  Drama tends to naturally escalate.  If you are aware of a problem, it is best to address it quickly.  The longer it smolders the group will internalize and the issue will become fact.  This is human nature.  Find a confidant on the inside and try to pinpoint the issue.  The quicker you address the problem the better.

Make Changes:  If the drama is always centered around one person, maybe it’s time to make some changes?  Office drama is damaging.  Don’t be afraid to dismiss a person who continues to cause trouble in the ranks.

Have Fun:  Office outings and fun environments can help lessen office drama.  When you provide opportunities for interaction with someone outside of work you may find that you have things in common and actually like to hang out together.  It’s not uncommon to find out that the person you have a problem with is actually just like you!   Don’t forget to do some team building by having fun with your group.  This can pay off big in diminishing drama.

The business world is hard enough without having to deal with office drama.  Dealing with drama is difficult as it involves people, personalities and emotion which is a pretty scary mix for anyone.  As you become more skilled in sensing what is really going on you will be better equipped to address the situation.  Devora Zack cautions to be careful in how you address these issues in asking questions.  By asking the questions in the wrong manner you can actually reinforce the toxic thinking.  Ask questions about the outcome not the problem– i.e “What do you want?”  “What will this get you?”  “How will this benefit everyone?”  The fact is that keen management skills are often the key to killing office drama.

See- we all want to have “peace in the valley”.  Work is hard enough- right?  So…let’s leave the drama for the movies!

So what do you think?  Do you have other strategies that you have used to address drama and agitators?  Do you have a story to share here?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!  Click “Like” if you can relate!