Cracking the Code to Better Management

I had a chance to watch the Ryder Cup this weekend and was disappointed in the U.S. team’s performance. It was clear early on that this was not going to be our day. It is surprising that some of the nation’s best golf players can’t seem to win this contest. The U.S. team has lost eight of the last 10 Ryder matches. Of course, some of our golfers were injured and out of action, but injuries are always part of sports and offer no excuse for the poor showing.

Phil Mickelson expressed his frustration at Sunday’s loss, pinning the blame on team captain Tom Watson’s managing techniques. Michelson claimed that Watson’s top-down management approach left players out of the decision-making process which meant players were not invested in the process. Michelson further commented that when Paul Azinger was captain and the U.S. team won in 2008, players were involved in all phases of the decision process.

What did Azinger do to achieve the win? Azinger wrote about his managing methods in Cracking the Code: The Winning Ryder Cup Strategy Azinger contends that the U.S. team’s previous losses were due to lack of team spirit. He observed that while the players were individually successful, the Ryder Cup is really a team competition that depends on the performance of all 12 players, not just a few of the well-known players.

Azinger based his managing strategy on the Navy Seals’ approach which groups individuals by personality type. Azinger figured that if the players were grouped by personality types and not by the obvious “experienced vs. inexperienced” camps, they would bond faster since they were similar and there wasn’t much time to form relationships.

Likewise, Azinger treated the players like professionals and gave them major input into decisions including the selection of team members. Azinger saw his role as providing a good environment in which the players’ skills and professionalism would produce good results. What Azinger did sounds pretty simple but it revolutionized in Ryder Cup play.

Now, fast forward to KPMG’s recent survey of 100 bank executives on the biggest barriers to growth over the next year. No surprise that largest barrier cited by bank executives was regulatory and legislative pressures, but over 70% of the issues mentioned by the executives were problems that the managers have no control over. Regulations –good or bad are just part of business and frankly, not the reason for a company’s failure to reach their goals.

A great article in the Harvard Business Review, states that the number one reason why companies fail in self-reinvention is that CEOs and their senior managers “don’t really want a new business model. They are content with the current one and they want everyone in the organization focused on how to improve its performance. The clearest indication that a company and its leaders aren’t interested in business model innovation is when any discussion about emerging business models and disruptive technology is viewed and treated solely as a competitive threat.”

Times are changing and companies need to embrace new management approaches to succeed in the long run. Is your management approach working? If not, give me a call to discuss how to ensure that your sales team turns in a winning performance.