My Thoughts Exactly

I have been somewhat disappointed with the public performance of the new coach of the Toronto Raptors who seems quite comfortable humiliating his players in public. I am happy that the Raptors have finally found a coach who is willing to challenge the over paid players but I don't agree with him doing it through the media.

I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Local headhunter Michael Stern has a column about it in the National Post:

It's much easier to encourage people to do better than to shame them into it.

I don't for a minute underestimate the pressures of major-league coaching, especially in the high-stakes world of professional basketball. Nor do I believe it is easy to stay rational when the media are always hounding you for controversial quotes.

Still, is it that much more difficult than the job of the sales director who has to meet monthly targets while managing a competitive group of sales reps, or the chief executive who leads a cabal of executive VPs all jockeying for power and recognition?

There's an art to motivating superstars (and most other people). Here are a few hints.

- If there's a problem, assume your share of the blame. If your star players aren't working as a team, it means you haven't built one. The coach who always blames his players sounds like the egotistical salesperson who says, "I'm doing a great job of selling, but these customers just aren't buying."

- Don't tear people apart in public. If you have to be critical, save it for a private meeting. Shaming players or employees in front of their peers is no way to encourage performance. Sustained performance comes from commitment and trust, and floggings tend to crush such feelings. I have known employers who enjoy singling out staff members, but it always backfires. All it does is anger employees and reduce their loyalty to the group as they start looking for better positions (and more respect) someplace else.

Abandon the notion that you are "in charge," the all-knowing, all-powerful boss. On a professional sports team, most players have greater skills than the coach. In your business, many sales reps are better at selling than the sales manager. The leader's job is to motivate, not pontificate

That being said I think it is easier to motivate a sales team than a professional sports team.

Why? It's a hell of a lot easier to fire sales reps than it is to fire pro athletes. The Raptors have been trying to dump Vince Carter and Jalen Rose since the season started but there are no takers for that package considering the hefty 40 million contract that Rose carries.

It is however easier to fire a coach than it is to fire all the players.

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