Build your own winning team: Lessons from cricket - FocusU

Build your own winning team: Lessons from cricket

With the Indian Premier League beginning today, 2011 is turning out to be a cricket-heavy year.

But watching cricket need not be all play and no work.

In fact, India’s historic win in the ICC World Cup Saturday is a case study for managers on the power of the right team. Indian captain M.S. Dhoni successfully channeled the energies of disparate team members in a way that helped them become world champions.

ICC World Cup 2011

Source: Wikipedia

Like Mr. Dhoni, corporate managers also face the task of building teams which can achieve high performance for the team as well as for the organization.

Here are some tips managers can keep in mind:

1. Figure them out:

MS Dhoni

Source: Flickr
Knowing the pulse of your team can help you achieve amazing results. Mr. Dhoni knows the strengths and weaknesses of his players, which helps him decide which batsman or bowler to use at different points during the game.

Similarly, once you understand your team, such as who is the go-getter versus the slow-and-steady performer, you can better plan their assignments in a way that the team goals are achieved smoothly.

2. Team first:

Dhoni with team

Source: ndtv
When you discuss performance goals with team members, go beyond individual goals to communicate what the team needs to achieve.

Lead by example to show that the team’s success is ahead of your personal goals or that of any one member of the team. Remember, playing favorites goes directly against team spirit.

3. Build an open culture:

Indian cricket team culture

Source: ndtv
A manager influences the culture of the place to a great extent because often team members closely follow what the manager says and does.

Try and create an environment where people share their thoughts with conviction and there is healthy debate. This atmosphere can make work an enjoyable activity and achievement a habit.

On a cautionary note, pitting one team member against another only brings discredit to the manager in the long run.

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4. Have faith:

dhoni fielding

Source: DNA
Poet John Keats once said, “It is easy to defeat someone, but it is very hard to win someone.”

One way to win your teammates is to trust them to do their jobs well.

Look at how Mr. Dhoni gives freedom to his bowlers and fielders on the field, and doesn’t ask them to do things in a specific way. In turn, these players feel empowered and put in their best performance.

Your faith that your teammates “can do” makes them create and leave best practices for the coming generation.

5. Tackle issues not people:

India vs Pakistan

Once a senior manager got angry with some of his team members and said: “We need to have MBA graduates to complete this work.” His team members were not MBA graduates. How do you think they felt?  Was this an issue-based comment or a direct personal attack?

Good team managers always discuss the problem at heart, not the individual.

Look at how Sachin Tendulkar, after winning the match against Pakistan last week, went around telling all team members that their work was not over. He was focusing on the issue and not about what a specific individual needed to do.

6. Be a coach: Winners also need coaches. If you understand the aspirations of your team members, you can  guide  them and help unleash their potential. When your colleagues see that they are growing professionally, they feel like giving more in return. This exudes positive vibes among team members.

7. Beyond work:

Cricket team success

Source: bcci
Why is it that some people don’t mind working for 14 hours for one manager but for another manager they don’t want to work even for two hours? It’s because of their relationship with the manager.

Relationship building requires the investment of time and energy. Spend quality time your team without any preconceived notions and help them achieve what they need.

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Sometimes, it helps to go beyond work.

One of the best people managers at Wipro, who has less than 5% attrition annually in his team, personally brings flowers to his team members’ homes on their birthday or wedding anniversary. This manager then brings the team member to the office in his car and drops him or her back home in the evening.  This gesture makes his team members feel special and wanted.

8. Be genuine: Any effort to connect with your team won’t be effective if you are not genuine about it. Genuineness always touches others. When the team believes that the manager is truly trying to help them, they don’t mind the manager being tough with them occasionally.

On the contrary, when a manager is fake in his accolades, his credibility is lost forever and that’s the end of the relationship and the team camaraderie.

In today’s highly complex and rapidly changing world, managers can no longer assume a know-it-all attitude and control everything. Plans need to be flexible and both the managers and team members should understand the organization’s direction.

This inspires the team to perform to the best of their ability to achieve common goals.

Only when hearts and minds are aligned can miracles happen. Like India’s victory after 28 years.

The author Mrityunjay Srivastava is General Manager of corporate Human Resources development for Wipro Ltd., based in Bangalore. The article is published with his permission.

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