I was sitting on a train to a match last Saturday, when the guys next to me started talking about their young children’s soccer coach. They complained that the coach would not always use his full amount of possible substitutions during matches. While the coach asks why to switch in case the team plays well, the parents want to see as many of the children as possible participating in order not to demotivate them.
It seems like that coach had to decide if he wanted to go for short term top performance or broad motivation.
After getting off the train and arriving at the stadium, we saw a match in which the big favorites looked extremely tired all through. Their coach had to start with his substitutions rather early as some of the usual performers were not in good shape. Later on it was one of the players that were brought in who set up the biggest opportunity of the game.
On my way back from the stadium I reflected about it and identified some points that are valid both on the turf and in the office:
If you limit your focus only to the top performers, you will get the great stuff they deliver, but you’re vulnerable in case they won’t deliver, e.g. when they will be sick, injured or tired, etc.
Also, for those that are no top performers yet, there’s a lot more room for development, and especially for young talents you can’t tell early who will develop extremely good and who will develop just good. That’s maybe one of the points that youth coach missed.
Still you can see it anywhere that managers tend to always go with the same guys to get the best short term performance instead of building up others, too and aim at enhancing the long term performance.
And it’s not only about individual development and motivation, there’s also a social factor to it: If two groups are created, a small one for the great performers and a big one for the others, the full team overall will not be able to perform at its limit, as disappointment is viral and will reach anyone.
Experiencing the feeling of success has a lot of power and can play a huge role in the development of individuals.
Speaking of development, that’s what students at Universities are typically working on, also in sports: College Football players e.g. hope to get the chance to develop into the NFL.
When Mark Cuban, whom I already wrote about before (e.g. here), suggested replacing the system of Bowls in College Football with a playoff system last week, stating that the current system was not very efficient and that there was a good business opportunity in changing it, he only looked at the short term performance, not at the motivation and the development.
35 Bowls mean that 70 teams will have the motivation of making a final and 35 of them will have the even greater motivation of winning a title.
Developing people is in nearly no case giving you the best short term performance, but on the long run it will pay. So let’s distribute responsibilities broader and give everyone on the team the opportunity to experience the feeling of success.