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A Good Team Makes A Good Manager

November 27, 2009

Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame baseball manager and renowned practitioner of one line wisdom, was once asked what made a good manager. Yogi is said to have replied, “A good ball club”.

Truer words were never spoken. Whether on the ball field or in the board room, a good team will always make a good manager.

The message for all managers is clear. Your first responsibility is to put a good team together. That means getting the right players, developing your people, giving them the ball and letting them play.

Developing and holding onto good people is one of the most important tasks for the manager of any business. You begin by creating a climate in which people can perform to the best of their ability. That sounds easy enough, but most companies fall short of the mark. While most people would like to perform at 100% of their capacity, few organizations can claim such results. Check the recent record of the New York Yankees if you don’t think climate has a major impact on performance.

Determine where you want your team, your department, or your business to be in the future. Assess what skills, qualities, and attitudes your team will need to be successful. Then start to put the team together that will get you where you want to be.

The major reason people don’t succeed in a job isn’t lack of ability. Skills and ability are fairly easy to quantify and measure. We seldom hire someone who doesn’t have the capability to do the job. When we do, the mistake can be corrected quickly by training or reversing the decision. Skills can be taught easier than attitudes can be changed.

When people don’t succeed it’s often because they don’t fit in. That can be a result of the character of the individual, the climate in the organization, or the blending of the two. Just like in our friend Yogi’s business, sometimes the chemistry is not right on a team. An otherwise good ballplayer just doesn’t fit in and a trade is necessary.

Once you have established a climate for success and identified the type of person within the given skill range that your business needs, you must recruit, attract, and retain your team. There’s good and bad news here. The bad news is that there are no fool proof systems for perfect hiring. The good news is that you can substantial increase your percentages if you are willing to get involved and work at it..

Getting the right people is hard work and it’s too important to delegate. In recognition of this fact, it is becoming increasingly common for the Chief Executives of progressive companies to be active in the hiring process at all levels in the organization. Not too long ago that would have been considered meddling.

Develop people by improving your understanding of what people are seeking for themselves. Determine how their personal objectives can be advanced at your company. If those objectives can be accomplished, show your people how and give them the support and encouragement they need. Harness and enroll their self interest so that it will work for you. Get them to sign on to your program and demonstrate their benefits for doing so.

Your team will develop if they know what they are responsible for and have the authority to meet those responsibilities. People need freedom to grow, to make decisions, and to take responsibility. Authority is the power to create a success.

Develop strategies that will bring out the best in people. Clouded objectives and direction cause confusion that prevents people from bringing their best to bear on the problems at hand.

It is always more expensive to fix things than to do them right the first time. Make sure that you spare no effort when you staff your team. Develop a climate that will bring out the best in all your people.

Attitudes towards work are an important consideration when you are choosing a team. You need to choose individuals whose attitudes and objectives are compatible with the direction of your organization. You must further recognize your responsibility to follow through on the promise and expectations that your players bring to the team.

An observer watched three professional baseball players practicing at spring training camp. The observer asked each of the players what they were doing. The first replied, “my job”. The second replied, “playing baseball”. The third replied, “getting ready for the World Series”. Which player do you want on your team?

If good teams make good managers, there is no more important task for any manager than developing people. Because it’s your business, that means recruiting, training, and retaining the right players.

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