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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Volume 14 | # 334
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Learning from experience is a faculty almost never practiced. » Barbara Tuchman

Managing to Improve Training

I was a participant in a “re-training” session last weekend that reinforced a few ideas for me. The session wasn’t bank related. It was a coach “recertification” for the soccer league in which my kids play.

Coaches are required to recertify every 2 years. I wasn’t ecstatic about giving up 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon, but I figured I’d pick up new tips.

Instead, it felt like the movie “Groundhog Day.” I had the same instructor I had two years ago and I could practically finish his sentences.

The idea that repeatedly came back to me was that experienced managers are usually in the best position to convey relatable and useful information to newer managers. Our instructor wasn’t a bad guy. But he hadn’t coached in years, and he apparently coached older kids exclusively.

All of the folks in attendance were coaching kids less than 10 years of age. While the “rules” of the game are the same for all ages, the real-world tactics for teaching, coaching, psychoanalyzing, etc. younger kids (and their parents) are vastly different.

I remembered going through that session as a “rookie” and coming away with ideas and plans that I later discovered simply weren’t relevant to my situation. About 75% of this clinic is spent having the coaches physically practice soccer drills. (Sort of like role-playing in short pants.) These are drills that 90% of 7-year-olds couldn’t do if you bribed them with Fruit Roll-Ups and juice boxes.

As the afternoon progressed, I found myself sharing bits of “youth-soccer-coach-wisdom” with the rookies there. The difference between the tips and tactics I shared and the “official” session was pretty stark. Several new coaches stuck close by to pick my brain whenever our instructor was distracted.

And a few asked for my email address in case they needed help later. That reminded me of my old joke that the most important training manual you can give a new manager is a phone and email directory of your veteran managers.

How involved are your existing managers in mentoring new ones? Do your training materials and sessions ever get reviewed by your experienced team members to make sure they are as up to date and “real-world” as possible?

One of the biggest assets of any organization is the collective wisdom of its experienced personnel and managers. Are you doing all that you can to leverage that asset?

A Master Attitude

One of my “must see” sporting days each year is the Sunday round of The Masters. The unequaled tension and stress placed on players usually leads to pretty memorable moments.

This year’s Masters didn’t disappoint. And when it was all over, I found myself motivated by one player in particular. This year, however, I was most motivated by a guy who lost.

When the day began, Kenny Perry was tied for the lead. At 48 years-of-age, he was poised to win his first “major” and also become the oldest winner in history of one of golf’s major tournaments.

Watching television, it was easy to forget that Perry, Angel Cabrero, and Chad Campbell were leading the tournament. The crowds and cameras were focused on the duel between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. In the end, their final-round charge fell short.

With 2 holes to play and a 2-shot lead, Perry seemed destined for victory. But after playing almost flawlessly all week and with the greatest triumph of his career within reach, mistakes on the last 2 holes cost him the lead and eventually the tournament.

Like me, I have no doubt that thousands of viewers felt a pit in their stomach for Kenny Perry.

But it was his comments afterwards that truly raised my respect for him. Instead of lessening Cabrero’s win by whining that he had given it away, a disappointed Perry said, "I'm not going to feel sorry. If this is the worst thing that happens to me, I can live with it. I really can. Great players get it done, and Angel got it done. This is his second major he’s won.” (I hadn’t realized that.) In defeat, Perry made a point to recognize his competitor’s achievements.

When asked how this loss might affect him in the future, he shrugged and put it into perspective. He mentioned that his parents are very ill right now and that he has friends and family back home that were hurting in real ways. He reasoned that he gets to play golf for a living and had no right to complain.

The cheers Perry will hear for the rest of the year will not be for a Masters win. They’ll have been earned for the example of graciousness he showed and the perspective he kept at a time when he could have been forgiven for doing otherwise.

It’s not easy to keep a proper perspective when the ball isn’t bouncing our way. But striving to do so can make a huge difference in how we recover from setbacks and set the stage for future successes.

The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same. » Carlos Castaneda

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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