How do you know if you’ve lost your team?

Yesterday, the Seattle Mariners fired manager Don Wakamatsu after only a year and a half. Last year, he led the team to 85 wins and was a strong contender for Manager of the Year. Less than a full season later he’s the poster child for failure, as the team will undoubtedly lose 100 games. His biggest perceived failure is that he “lost his team.”

How do you “lose” a team? Basically, what this means in sports vernacular is that the team lost respect for him as the boss. It started with Ken Griffey Jr.’s quick departure after what seems to be differences with the skipper. It morphed into a very public dugout fight with Chone Figgins, captured on national television. By the time this week arrived, General Manager Jack Zduriencik decided that Wak must go, even though the team won 2 out of 3 games over the weekend.

In sports, head coaching has become more of a management position than an expertise one. Yes, you have to know your “stuff” when it comes to X’s and O’s. However, it is now more important that you are able to effectively communicate with prima-dona athletes, who can become as petulant as your 5-year old when they don’t get their way. This situation can clearly be seen in many management positions in business.

How good is your management team at effectively communicating with employees? How quickly and efficiently can they deal with conflict? How well do they motivate employees and do they really have influence?

If you are the owner of a business, your “coach” in the field is critical to your success. When you evaluate them, are you truly gauging their ability to communicate and influence? How do you know?

If you are a manager in charge of a team of employees, you should be asking yourself the same questions. Your career and remuneration may hinge on how well you communicate, inspire, and lead. How well are you doing?

Sports are played out on the big screen of our lives. The wins and losses are easy to track and the personalities are open books to read and sometimes even come with notes. Business operates more in a cloud, sometimes even to the owners. Unfortunately, you might be losing as many games as the Mariners and not really even knowing it until it’s too late.

Make sure it doesn’t happen to you by making educated decisions on your top people. Give them training when necessary and help them to enhance their communication and leadership skills so they don’t “lose” your team.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved


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