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Managing Difficult Teams

Searching for effective strategies to manage your team? We sit down with Biran Cook, Australian businessman, former AFL player and coach and current CEO of the Geelong Football Club, as he discusses how to manage difficult teams and lead them to success.

 
 

 
How to lead and manage a team effectively
 
Brian Cook says leading and managing a team effectively requires passion, motivation, organisation, flexibility, integrity and people skills. Your team has nothing without trust, and that’s why as a leader, you must gain the trust of each and every player. Once they can trust you, the rest follows.
 
Knowledge is also crucial, and this can be tricky for coaches just getting started. It is necessary for every coach to have an established understanding of the game and proven, successful methods for play. You should always be ready to answer any questions the team may have and to walk players through any challenges at any time.
 

 

Teamwork in AFL

Most coaches understand the importance of collaboration and teamwork in AFL and work tirelessly to instill this mentality in their teams to give them a winning edge. With teamwork comes cooperation and without this, teams are unable to function efficiently.
 

A study done by Deakin University on teamwork in football

Deakin sports scientists developed a set of measurements that represent how teamwork can influence winning or losing AFL matches.  Using data collected during football matches, deemed the largest study using the analysis in sport, scientists were able to back the statement that ‘good teamwork is vital’ with data.
 
"Some coaches may wrongly believe that analysing technical performance by assessing match aggregate statistics is the only way to understand how to win games.”
 
After analysing hundreds of matches, they found there were differences in the characteristics of the passing networks between teams that won and lost matches. By identifying the characteristics of effective teamwork, they were able to set benchmark values for key tactical performance indicators.
 
The most important tactical measure of teamwork took a look at effective passing and whether passes were evenly shared with the whole team, and the average number of players involved in uninterrupted passes. 
 

 

Dealing with a difficult team member

If you’re struggling to get players to see eye-to-eye, especially when they reach adulthood, Brain Cook touches on a few ways you can approach the situation to better understand the mindset of each player.  Identify the problem The last thing you want to do is ignore the problem. If you notice an issue, address it head on, or it could spiral out of control and begin to affect the entire team dynamic. 
 
Take a step back and analyse the situation further. Are there factors that may be causing the problem? How can these factors be rectified? Once the situation is fully understood, you can begin to address it. Have a conversation Resolutions usually start with a conversation. Be direct and speak to the team member about the ongoing issues. Approach them respectfully and privately. Instead of passing blame or using labels, focus on the behaviour and let the team member know how it can impact the entire team.
 
Also be mindful of what the player has to say. Give them time to talk and actively listen to their point of view. You will gain insights that will be needed to come up with a solution. Come up with a solution After the initial conversation, you can work together with the team member and begin to come up with ways to fix the problem. If they help craft a solution, they’ll have more ownership for it and are more likely to focus on it.