"Getting good players is easy... getting them to play together as a team is the hard part"
~ Casey Stengel
I watched in amazement as the quarterback just fumbled the ball for his fifth turnover of the game.
The typical football team suits up about 55 players for each game.
Every single player on the team spends countless amount of time and energy preparing themselves, mentally and physically, for the games.
The coaches spend time teaching and developing players into better players, creating game plans, and evaluating the needs of the team and recruiting the best talent available to fill those needs.
The staff and trainers work diligently to provide the proper equipment and resources that will provide the players and coaches with the tools to effectively do their jobs.
Each and every player, coach and support staff person has one goal, to place the team in a position for success on the field.
Yet one single player didn’t do his job... and that one player cost the team a victory today.
Now you might think that I was writing about the quarterback... but I’m not.
You see, it wasn’t the quarterback’s fault... the turnovers were solely on the shoulders of the right tackle.
The right tackle, on those plays where the interceptions occurred, missed his blocking assignment.
This caused the quarterback to be flushed out of the pocket on multiple occasions, trying to complete a pass while running away from defenders, resulting in two interceptions... for a pass to be deflected at the line of scrimmage for yet another interception... and several hard sacks that ultimately resulted in two lost fumbles.
Each and every player on the team, save one, was doing his very best to contribute to his team’s success, but all of their hard work was being undermined by one player who wasn’t performing... not because he lacked the talent of skills... but because he wasn’t giving the team his maximum effort.
It wasn’t always this way... the player who was no longer giving the team his maximum effort was once an exemplary teammate... working overtime to prepare himself for game day, mentoring younger players, and providing capable leadership to make sure the team listened to the coaches and stayed focused on the things that mattered.
As a reward for his loyalty and work ethic, he was offered a substantial guaranteed contract by the team. Things were good for the player and the team... that is until he discovered that there were other players on the team that made more money than him...
The reason for the disparity was due primarily to the differences in positions. In general, the team’s quarterback and other "skill players" earn more money than an offensive lineman.
Still this didn’t sit too well with the player, who believed that he was the most important person on the team and should be paid accordingly.
The player soon began showing up late to practice and leaving early. He no longer worked as hard as he once did and often just went through the motions.
More importantly, he began to publically question the team’s coaches and team leadership in the press and in the locker room.
His negativity began poisoning other players’ minds and attitude.
Whereas before, when the players were happy to work together as a team focused on a single goal, now factions and cliques were forming, each with varying agendas.
The team’s management would like to now part ways with the lineman, however there is the not so small issue of the large guaranteed contract that they would have to eat... and then there is the player’s union to contend with...
This is the case of one dissident player holding an entire organization hostage...
Now many of us might laugh at the absurdity of this situation... we would simply respond by releasing (firing) the disgruntled player... this would be a simple case of "addition by subtraction".
Here’s the interesting thing... I think that we can all think of at least one employee in our own organization that was a great team member at one time... but now has become a prima donna, lazy, resentful, a bully, or are simply biding their time until retirement or another job comes along.
These people are cancers to any organization, especially if management turns a blind eye to the situation.
I know this only too well... because in fact, I was a horrible employee before I ended up leaving and starting my own company some 25 years ago.
My attitude toward the company and especially its management was downright treasonous. Yet I was allowed to continue unrestrained due to my performance.
I was warned on several occasions by my direct supervisors that I could have a bad attitude or bad performance... but that I couldn’t have both...
Not only was I treating my superiors with disdain, I was also acting to influence others to openly question management’s ability to effectively lead... acting out like a little kid not getting his own way...
Not only was management upset with my antics, but my peers were none-too-happy with the situation as well. Why did the company’s leadership allow the situation to fester for so long?
They tried to rationalize my behaviour to other employees by telling them that if they had my numbers that they could say what they wanted as well... but since they didn’t they best be quiet and tow the company’s line. Needless to say, this didn’t quite foster a great team attitude among the troops.
In reality... the company should have just bitten the bullet and fired me for insubordination and a piss-poor attitude. No amount of sales was worth the grief and dissention it was causing throughout the organization.
Jump forward several years... and now I am sitting on the other side of the table and trying to lead an exceptional team.
I’d like to say that I manage OptiFuse with an iron fist with a "my way or the highway" leadership style... but truth is, I like when employees openly question my decisions...
Just because we said it, doesn’t make it right... being able to defend a position through strenuous debate ensures that we have made the right decision.
The line between disagreement and a poor attitude is a fine one.
The key differentiator is the intent. Is the dissenter attempting to make our organization better or are they trying to stir the pot to enrich themselves or feed their ego?
At OptiFuse, there is plenty of room for open (and sometimes heated) discussion. I want people to be passionate about their ideas and contributions...
Those employees whose only desire is to disrupt the process without making constructive contributions are soon asked to find employment elsewhere.
As this year comes to an end, attentions are often given to strategic planning for the upcoming year.
Are you going to be a contributor or a detractor to the overall success of your organization?
If your answer to that question is, "I want to contribute to the success of my company but management never listens to me"...
Then my response is simply, "You’re at the wrong company and you need to find yourself a new position right away".
More than likely though, the leadership at your company will appreciate your ideas knowing that you’re only trying to help make the team and the company better.
...but in the end... you can’t control the situation... you can only control your attitude and effort...
...making sure that you’re not the rotten apple spoiling the bunch.
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we believe that in order to change your situation you need to change yourself first...
Jim Kalb President
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse