Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's just not cricket - or is it?

The decision by the Australian captain and coach to stand down 4 players ahead of the test against India today has attracted a furore. Setting the tone for what's acceptable and what's not is critical to establishing good cultural norms. A robust feedback culture, respect for leadership and a commitment to excellence is essential in elite sport as in other workplaces. A few points though...
Sidelining non-compliers is reasonable as long as the punishment fits the crime. Any punishment sends a message but is it proportional? Michael Clarke should not judge the appropriateness of the punishment by what the media thinks or former players who played in a different era and might have operated under a regime characterised by a "win at all costs mentality". That's the same as keeping on the top salesperson even if they are a prize bully or a sexual harasser. Clarke should have determined the appropriate consequence by comparing with the ongoing values narrative in the team (if there is one), the culture he wants to instil and by being consistent with stated goals, standards, expectations and potential consequences.

If this transgression was used as a pretext to send a wakeup call and these players were scapegoated for other laxness in the team, this is not fair. Whatever we do or don't sends a message. But never punish just to send a message. I suspect in the wake of publicity about AFL players, cycling and our Oz swimming team, the time was ripe to shake up cricket and this was a good reason to do it. For mine, long term cultural integrity matters more than one test match. I can only hope they are as strict about other "off field antics" when one considers these players are high profile and represent their country.
Not handing in one's homework might seem on this occasion to have attracted a costly detention.  It might even seem old school. But we get the behaviour we deserve. We get the culture we're prepared to tolerate.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Tale of Two Cycles


When studying the MRI results after 10 years of jogging, I made the decision to reinvent myself as a cyclist. I figured all I needed was a beautiful road bike until someone told me it might help me maintain my fitness if I rode it now and then. I've been doing so for a few weeks but should never have economised on the 'knicks' (padded cycling shorts). So here tis...

Last week I stopped into a cycling shop in Black Rock mid-ride as without getting too personal, my rear end was unhappy. I was greeted in a friendly enough fashion until I advised them I had $50 in my pocket (originally intended for breakfast for my son and I but Tony graciously deferred to my need for knicks). I can hear the cycling snobs scoff but to be fair to myself, I did tell them I knew my credit card number and was prepared to spend more. Well, the owner did not even attempt to disguise his eye roll as he turned on his heel and walked off in disgust while an only mildly embarrassed shop assistant took me over to the women's range of padded over garments.

The one I liked was four times my breakfast money but I needn't have worried. She suggested I come back another time "after a shower" (and presumably after I'd stuffed my jersey pocket with cash).

Yesterday I went to a little cycling shop in Elwood recommended by a friend. Tracy from Canada, was warm, patient, informative and anything but pushy. Some $560 later I left the shop, excited about my ride tomorrow morning.

This morning, thinking about the two experiences, I had a momentary 'Pretty Woman' flashback and imagined going back to Black Rock to advise them of their "Big Mistake". I would never do it because firstly I coach in Emotional Intelligence and it would be petty, spiteful and reactive and secondly my big lot of shopping was one very little bag and may not have looked all that impressive. 

Nevertheless, the tale of two cycle shops reminded me of some key things it's worth us all remembering:

     · Our internal voice is often the cause of leakage in our non-verbal behaviour (e.g. Mr. Eye Roll) so to tame the behaviour, we need to take charge of our self-talk. Suspending negative judgment, particularly contempt, is a good start!

     · People want to feel important and will appreciate those who help them feel that way. And, it's free!

· People and organisations that focus on giving time and providing value without fixating on what you can do for them engender loyalty beyond words

· People like Tracy from Canada who loves Melbourne, loves cycling and is proud of what she sells to people who really want it, is invaluable to her organisation (And no, there was no boss in sight).

How can we focus more attention day to day in helping our people feel that way?