Positive Partnerships

In England’s Premier League, a football club manager’s ability and character is measured by the success of his team. Wins count; losses and even draws are dismissed as failure and a manager can be dismissed before he’d even unpacked his office.

In reality, it is the clubs that give their managers sufficient time to develop their strategy that usually enjoy longer-term stability and win more trophies. Their fan base are generally more loyal and supportive through the hard times than those who have new managers daily, as they are given belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Mutual respect

Respect for players as well as managers is becoming a prominent issue in sport, including football. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the England manager Gareth Southgate won plaudits and praise from many for his obvious emotional intelligence. He, and his players, were enjoying the competition and had a real desire to win. They also showed strong team unity and a relaxed confidence in each other’s ability. They formed an effective and ambitious partnership by adopting a positive mental attitude and a real commitment to the team and the mission.

Positive over negative

The media tends to focus on the negative, as drama and intrigue sell. The irony is that they would probably improve the public mood by promoting positive messages, but that might be seen as propaganda or even an attempt to misguide the masses!

There is scientific evidence, however, that too much bad news can be bad for both mental and physical health [1]. “The way that news is presented and the way that we access news has changed significantly over the last 15 to 20 years,” says Graham Davey, a professor emeritus of psychology at Sussex University in the UK and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Experimental Psychopathology. “These changes have often been detrimental to general mental health.”

Although mass information may be outside our individual sphere of influence, managers should certainly take account of external factors that may affect the morale of their team and respond to them. Every business faces the same challenge, of uniting and motivating key people to get the best personal and team performance from them and to achieve success.

The conundrum in motivation practice is always how to achieve the right balance between “the carrot and the stick”. Too much criticism and negativity undermines confidence and causes frustration and stress. Used with care, constructive comment linked to coaching on how to improve can be very effective. A focus by the manager on mutual respect and co-operation within the team will encourage everyone to adopt a positive approach. Those who do not contribute to the vision will soon be identified and possibly isolated.

The greater good

While accommodating exceptional talent is a short-term imperative because of the value of their contributions, in the end the fate of the team and the club (or indeed the company) has to be the over-riding priority. The overall success of any enterprise depends on stability, security and sustained performance standards.  There is no room for prima donnas in a happy and successful company.

Motivation is the energy that powers an organisation. Generating that energy by recognising and rewarding individual and team performance is a vital leadership and management responsibility. In business, motivation techniques work best with a carrot rather than a stick. When companies are able to give people a sense of their own value, belief grows and progress can be achieved.

The owners of the club (or company) – the investors and shareholders – will be constantly focused on performance and the financial results that it produces. High on the list of assets in modern business is human capital – no organisation can function entirely without people and most depend heavily on them for working relationships and reputations. Positive emotion affects the boardroom sentiment that determines share values as well as the attitude of employees and channel partners towards the company and its aims.

The successful club or company will enlist the help of external advisers and specialists to develop their long-term goals. A common example in business is in the relationships with dealers or other reseller partners. The same principle applies, that they are part of the wider team and need to feel positive about the partnership. The strategy and ethos of the company and its channel partners must be understood and shared unconditionally. Once again, there must be a positive and open relationship if all concerned are going to survive the tough times and go on to ultimate success [2].

Sometimes it takes an outsider to observe negative behaviour and identify opportunities for improvement in performance. A specialist motivation agency can offer a wide range of tools and techniques for raising morale, ambition and expectations in the team amongst its supporters!