The Effective Management of Teams

Basketball fans, particularly fans of the Utah Jazz, will recognize the name immediately. From 1982 to 1994 NBA All Star Mark Eaton was one of the best in the game. This is not hyperbole. Though he has been out of the game for years, his career standing as number one for blocks per game still stands. It makes perfect sense that Mark is now a professional speaker on the topics of creating winning teams and effective management of teams. Through his popular keynote address, The Four Commitments of a Winning Team, he helps his clients learn what it takes to turn team members into top performers.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mark at a recent gathering of the National Speaker’s Association. Given our similar business interests in effective management, I had to ask if it would be okay to discuss this with him and he graciously agreed. Here are a few of the highlights of our conversation.

One of the biggest challenges for any manager is to create a sense of team. I imagine this can be difficult for a coach who has to work with the larger egos of millionaire athletes, right?
Mark: No doubt, but teams improve when coaches help players see that more success comes from playing as a team as opposed to being concerned about their own numbers.

How do they get that done – foster a sense of team over self?
Mark: It depends on the person but one way is by pulling individuals aside and working with them to help them see this; by connecting with them in whatever way is necessary to guide changes that will elevate the team.

And what’s the secret to that, ‘reaching’ individuals to guide them through this change?
Mark: That right there is the trick. People are different so different approaches are needed. Figuring out what works with who and using this to help individuals and the team as a whole is what separates the good coaches from the great ones.

And there it is – a message that managers hear regularly but probably don’t apply often enough. I’m assuming the latter because in my travels I hear way too many ‘my manager doesn’t get me’ stories.

Dear managers, for more effective management, my call to action is this; develop a stronger sense of team through a better understanding of your team members. Learn what matters to them and develop these priorities from a team perspective rather than individual perspectives. Don’t consider these two views mutually exclusive. Find where the two views meet for your team members and then get to work on strengthening your team.