Performance Management Lessons from the Basketball Court

With the Olympics in full swing, and millions watching around the globe, I’m going to make a statement that may surprise nearly no one – people love sports. We don’t just enjoy the competition, but also enjoy seeing the lessons and values of teamwork and leadership demonstrated in sports.

Sports can help us understand key leadership concepts in a way that’s simple and easy to grasp. There are great lessons from sports coaching than can be applied to how we think about performance management. Just look at the way sports teams – basketball teams, for instance – get real time coaching, and how it impacts performance.

There is a lot of buzz about the changes that many organizations are making to their performance management processes. Public announcements indicate that likely more than 100 companies have made a significant transition to their processes to move to process that is more real-time. We think this a great move. The model of focusing development and feedback in an annual process is not aligned to driving high performance.

Back to our basketball example. Imagine a basketball coach sitting down with one of her star players at the end of the season to go over the performance during the season that turned out different than what everyone wanted an expected. The coach really wanted to focus on how the player could improve her performance.

The coach starts by talking about the first game and first possession of the year, saying that the player really should have made sure that they didn’t make a cross court bounce pass or shouldn’t have picked up their dribble so soon. It led to an easy turnover and really put the team in a tough spot. The coach goes on to say that they should have done something else instead. It’s comical to think of coaches giving that detailed feedback just at the end of the season.

Imagine that this conversation was even happening at the end of a game. Would that be any better for the player or team? Of course not. There are so many possessions during the game. Without real-time feedback and coaching, a player is likely to make the same mistake repeatedly throughout the game.

Great coaches give their players feedback in the moment, so that the players can understand changes that they need to make. The most successful teams and coaches adjust their performance constantly during games. As the coach observes actions and behaviors, she makes adjustments to ensure success the next time the same situation comes up.

Great performance is guided by great coaching. Coaching needs to be in the moment, where the feedback can be used to improve performance and outcomes.   Treating performance management as a report card after the year is done is no different than a coach waiting until the end of the season to give her star player feedback at the end of the season. It’s less effective.

We need to shift the mindset of managers to make them coaches. Coaching isn’t something separate or outside of their role. It is their role. If you want to drive the best performance, you need to give real-time feedback to your employees to help them understand how they can adapt their behaviors for the next possession, not the next game or the next season.

You have an opportunity to learn more effective coaching, and get the most from your team. Get more details and register for the Coaching for High Performance program, brought to you by AchieveForum andAdvantexe, right here (Link to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/coaching-for-high-performance-tickets-24437568425?platform=hootsuite )

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