What Would Vince Lombardi Do?
by Mel Kleiman, CSP
There is nothing more exciting than coaching a child and his or her team to
victory. And there can be nothing more depressing than the disappointed look of
that same child and his or her team when they know they've lost.
Baseball, basketball, football and other sports are games, from which
children derive as much entertainment as they do recreation. As they get older
those games often become more serious. As such, the role of coach also becomes
Vince Lombardi, Red Auerbach, Joe Torre, Pat Riley and Phil Jackson all made
their mark in professional sports by effectively teaching, mentoring, managing,
and directing their teams. They got to be the best by bringing out the best in
their players and collectively reaching the pinnacle of success.
Like great coaches, as the manager of a business, you can help your team be the
best, by determining where your employees want to be and helping them to get
Sometimes we can retain our great employees well into the future, but
it's more than likely most will turn free agents and seek employment and
growth opportunities elsewhere. So, like the coach that knows his superstar
will not return next season - you've got to get the best out of each employee
while you have them.
The key is:
1. Figuring out what each employee wants out of their job
2. Where they hope to be in the future.
You will figure this out by listening to them. You should find out from the
very start the answers to these two important issues. It should shape your
hiring decisions. It should be a guiding force in your day-to-day management of
And when an employee does leave - you must again focus on those areas. Did you
help them achieve their goals? Did you help them along their career path? If
you can answer yes to these questions, then you have succeeded. If not, then
try to find ways to be more responsive to employee concerns.
Many of your best employees may never plan to make a career in your industry,
but they will continuously seek out growth opportunities. Try to offer
challenges within your organization that will hold their interest and their
enthusiasm. But even, if they start to wander, be willing to provide them the
skills and knowledge base to get where they want to be.
A large part of this is teaching them about the world of work. You need to
teach the skills that are not just important for the job, but also those skills
which are critical in life.
To help you in your coaching, just try to remember GO TEAM!
G is for GOALS
Every golfer needs a cup. Every archer needs a target. It is your job as coach
to help each team member find their own targets. Not only should you help
employees set their goals, you should also be teaching the importance of
objectives and strategies that will help them achieve goals in their personal
and professional lives.
Of course, you will also have company-wide goals that should be expressed and
explained to the team. There is perhaps no greater reward than the feeling of
accomplishment when a goal is reached. So make sure you set attainable
goals and celebrate when each goal is accomplished.
O is for OPPORTUNITY
Great employees can identify a need and make it an opportunity. They seize the
moment and move forward without comment or instruction. It may be as simple as
cleaning a dirty counter, sweeping up a spill or holding the door for a
customer. In sports terms it's called hustle and giving 110%.
Like the basketball player who dives for the loose ball, employees should learn
that making an extra effort beyond what is expected, makes them more valuable
and could lead to an MVP career.
T is for TEAMWORK
As the saying goes - there is no I in team. The pitcher needs a catcher, the
quarterback needs his receiver. Employees may take a job for personal reasons,
but in doing so they join a team that will support him or her just as much as
he or she supports the team. Everyone depends upon each other to be successful.
When one employee shows up late, takes a long break, or doesn't do their job -
then everyone else must pick up the slack.
Though there may be cultural, ethnic and even language barriers, it is
nevertheless critical that employees at least get along in the workplace. And
perhaps greater understandings and even friendships may develop.
E is for ETHICS
It's plain, simple and practical. Do to others as you wish done to you. This
goes for customers as well as employees. If you teach your employees proper
workplace behavior and coach them to always practice this - then you should
never need a referee to call a penalty. Use disciplinary measures to reinforce
the basic concepts behind ethical behavior.
A is for ATTITUDE
One of the most important things you can impart on your younger charges is the
proper attitude in the workplace. Despite a bevy of discrimination and
termination legal issues, it is still ultimately a privilege and not a right to
An employee's attitude is reflected in the way they work and they carry
themselves. Happy, alert, and responsive employees are also driven to excel and
will succeed in this job and future endeavors. Disgruntled, disturbed and
disappointed employees will mope around behind the counter, will make mistakes
and will show little regard for customers or the business.
It is important that you hedge off potential problems as early as possible. Use
recognition and encouragement to bolster the spirits of employees. Set rules
for attitude and behavior and enforce these rules stringently. It is important
that employees also understand that rules are made to be followed.
M is for MOTIVATION
As the coach of your store, you are a lot of things to a lot of people. For
your employees you are a friend and a disciplinarian, a mentor and a manager, a
master and a motivator. When everything is clicking, your hardest
responsibility may be to continue to motivate the team to greater successes.
In sports there are many champions, but only the great teams are able to repeat
again the following year. That is because it is easy to get complacent. Teams
may rest on their laurels after reaching success. As a good coach you need to
be a constant motivator for your team.
Of course nobody ever said winning was easy. Neither is coaching. But remember
at the end of the season - it is always good to look back and say YOU WERE THE
Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally recognized consultant, author, and
speaker on strategies for hiring and retaining the best hourly employees. He is
the President of Humetrics, a leading developer of systems, training,
processes, and tools for recruiting, selecting, and retaining the best hourly
workforce. Mel is also the author of four books, including the best selling
"Hire Tough Manage Easy." You can reach Mel at (800) 218-0930 or (713) 771-4401