Being the daughter of an entrepreneur, I don’t like the thought of associating children with business. However, Tim Berry makes some excellent points in his post, “5 Small Business Management Lessons Learned While Coaching Kids”.
During the time he coached his kids’ soccer team, Tim was also building his own business, and he found that certain aspects of coaching kids could be applied to managing a small business.
-THE 5 LESSONS-
1. Simple is really effective
“In my earlier years we’d coach the kids about teamwork and passing and triangles and positions. What we got was a collection of confused kids. Later, we started focusing on just three things:
- Get the ball into the goal.
- Keep it out of our own goal.
- Go where the ball is going, not where it is.”
Once those kids had clear goals in mind, they started winning all their matches; and, not only that, they actually enjoyed themselves on the field! So just how does this apply to your business?
Well, your work team also needs concrete, well-defined objectives. What else are you going to work towards? Sure, there’s always an ultimate mission, but it takes small and simple steps to fully realize the overall vision for a company.
Even if you have a chaotic start-up on your hands, it’s really important to break down (or plan) the work according to a process – with measurable aims. This gives you, your employees, and the business some much-needed direction.
2. “You did it” works better than “You idiot”
“The kids I coached didn’t learn anything from angry adults telling them what not to do. Or even worse, that what they just did was wrong thing. “Why did you do that” and “I told you not to do that” does nobody any good.
Dressing somebody down in front of peers does nobody any good. Not kids and not adults. On the other hand, praise worked really well.”
This applies to anything really – parenting, teaching, team management, and even being a dog owner. Unconstructive criticism, disappointment, any sort of negative reaction/emotion – these do nothing to motivate people (or animals).
Tim also notes that it’s not only about praising your star employees who constantly perform well. Remember to guide and support those who struggle; be patient with them, and when they succeed it will be that much more rewarding for you and for them. And speaking of rewarding, the next 3 points are lessons in praise and incentives.
3. Rewards should be served hot
“For the soccer kids, shouting and praise “in the moment” was way better than the pat on the back later.
In business, reward people the moment you get the good news. This is way more powerful than anything that you do later. Reacting fast to your own people is as critical to a business as answering sales queries quickly. Do not wait. Don’t take a note for the next salary review. Do it right now. Every day you wait dilutes the impact.”
We’ve mentioned this before: when it comes to rewarding, do it quickly. Instant rewards, such as an immediate bonus, are the most gratifying and have the maximum impact.
4. Turn peer pressure to peer power
“We’d praise the kids when they were together so they could all hear. We’d let the whole team know about what somebody did well.
Good people want praise and peer recognition. If you’re the boss, then you should always be looking for ways to praise somebody. Not the meaningless self-esteem-like prattle nobody respects, but serious acknowledgement for good work should happen in meetings, in an email, even on the wall.
So give that bonus in a meeting where peers are present. Give it along with an email to the group, so the person you want to reward gets the additional benefit of an email to save and use at some future point.”
That hits the nail on the head. Public praise is a big confidence booster and also incentivizes others to up their game.
5. Combine praise with more responsibility
“When one kid dribbled well, centered the ball, and set up a goal – we’d position them to do it again. When a kid seized that opportunity, took the assist and scored the goal, we’d put them where they could do that again. This point is my favorite because it has a double whammy to it.
If you reward success with more trust and responsibility, you simultaneously improve your team. People who don’t want to do more might not be motivated by more responsibility, but then by definition, those aren’t the people you want to reward anyhow.”
Most people should want to advance in a job and consequently in their careers. Help them to do just that when they perform exceptionally well. This also shows how much you value their work and believe in their abilities.
More responsibility could come in the form of taking the lead in a new project for instance, or even acquiring a higher position in the company.
– – –
What’s the bottom line then? Take on a kids’ sports team and improve your business management skills? Not necessarily – Tim’s already done that for us. But the above does show us that managing a business doesn’t have to be a daunting and impossible task.
Essentially, you’re the coach of your work team. So what you need to do is provide a little patience, guidance, and encouragement… and cheer as you all score some business goals!