This fall, I volunteered to coach my son’s U5 soccer team here in my local town. Keep in mind, I have never played soccer on any level (except with friends) and I have never coached before. Add to it that all of the kids are 4 years old, and it should make for an interesting experience.
Three weeks in, and overall things have gone well. The kids love playing the game, they have fun doing some drills in practice, and enjoy playing with the other kids. The kids have also done a great job of listening and paying attention during the game, which can be a challenge for kids of any age.
There has been one exception: my son.
Granted, Andrew is not the easiest child to deal with. He likes attention and is very attached to me, ever since the day he was born. He has been throwing fits on the field, not being engaged when the game is going on, and has done a lot of whining and complaining during practice and the games.
The other week, as he was sitting on the sidelines with my wife, she asked him what was wrong. He said, “The other team won’t let me kick the ball. They keep trying to stop me and I keep getting tripped”. He has watched sports on TV with me, including soccer, so he has seen the game.
Then it hit me: I have done a poor job as a coach. I just assumed that all of the kids understood the game and the nature of competition, and that the other team was trying to score on us and also trying to stop us to score. It never occurred to me to explain these things to the kids. I assumed that they understood the game.
Once my wife explained to him that it was part of the game, and that part of the other teams job was to stop him, he started to play better and become more engaged.
In your organization, do your employees understand the game? Do they understand what the end goal is, how the game (i.e. competition) works, and what each party is trying to do?
It never occurred to me to explain this to my players. I am willing to bet that many leaders and managers have done the same with their employees. Don’t just assume they always understand the game. Leaders and managers need to take the time to explain the game and communicate with the entire organization so that everyone understands what need to be done, what the organization is trying to accomplish, and how they are going to accomplish the goal.
Don’t make the same mistake I made. Make sure everyone understands the game.