Maybe you’ve heard the story of Dick Hoyt and his son, Rick. Rick was born so severely disabled that the doctors told his parents to put him in an institution so he could be cared for, but his parents refused and took their son home with them. Rick has been confined to a wheelchair his entire life, but that hasn’t deterred him. His parents got him a computer so he could communicate. Despite all of his challenges, he graduated from high school and college.
Last month, Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers star who was the 2011 National League MVP, was hit with a 65-game suspension that ended his season for his use of banned substances provided by a Miami clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs to Major League Baseball players. This was after he had appealed a 50-game suspension last year that was overturned by an arbitrator because of a technicality related to the way his test samples were handled.
I have the always desirable but elusive teamwork on my mind as I write this. The dictionary defines it this way: “cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause.” There’s a lot in that definition. It speaks of a cooperative effort. It points to a group acting together. And most important, it focuses on a common cause.
Knowing what your customers want and need and delivering it are key concepts for any business. But how do you really know what your customers want?
I read something the other day that asked, “Are you playing to win or not to lose?” It’s an interesting question. You may be wondering what the difference between the two exactly is. You may think that if both strategies are successful, the result is the same. But is it? Winning is winning, but not losing isn’t necessarily winning. Not losing doesn’t ensure victory. Things like tie games pop up. It’s not losing, but it isn’t winning, either.
Have you ever faced a problem at work that seemed so overwhelming, so insurmountable that you struggled to even know how to begin to resolve it? And the more you studied the problem, the more convinced you became that the solution must be equally as complex. Your exercise in problem solving became a downward spiral until you were more confused by the answer you came up with than you were with the original problem.
If you read the Harvard Business Review, you might have noticed a recent article proclaiming “The New Employer-Employee Compact.” The article, like all the other articles and books written on the subject, reminds us that the days of lifelong employment with a single company are over. (Thanks for that news flash!) Then the authors, who include the cofounder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, put forward the idea of “tours of duty” as the solution. You can read more about their ideas in the June 2013 issue.
As a manager, you’re tasked with finding and evaluating talent. You need to know which people will fit on your team. You must determine who has the right skill set to make the necessary contributions. And you must decide what blend of talent and personalities will allow the team to achieve its goals. No easy job, for sure.