Five things to take tal­ented groups of peo­ple from good to great.

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENT -

It’s of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to me to note the dif­fer­ences be­tween those clubs that could be con­sid­ered “suc­cess­ful” and those that would be con­sid­ered “less so.” It's never an easy paint by num­bers ap­proach to gen­er­at­ing a suc­cess­ful golf club. The re­al­ity is our clubs are com­plex or­gan­i­sa­tions that have a mul­ti­tude of chal­lenges, mul­ti­ple stake­hold­ers to con­sider and lim­ited re­source to achieve their out­comes. As I and my team meet with these peo­ple, one thing does make it­self ev­i­dent more of­ten than not. These “suc­cess­ful” clubs op­er­ate well as a team.

In sports, it's of­ten not the team with the best play­ers in each po­si­tion that guar­an­tees suc­cess but those with the best team cul­ture. There are many ex­am­ples of su­per teams not quite per­form­ing. It's the same with our golf clubs. Golf, in its tra­di­tional sense, re­lies heav­ily on ef­fec­tive teams. It's not quite as sim­ple for our par­tic­i­pants to just throw down a cou­ple of jer­seys as goal posts and get on with it. Our tra­di­tional sport takes place at a pur­pose-built fa­cil­ity. It re­lies on the man­age­ment and ad­min­is­tra­tion team, the greens team, the boards, the pro's and coaches and the com­mit­tees and vol­un­teers. They all need to work to­gether ef­fec­tively to de­liver a high-qual­ity golf­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the end user.


The Re­gional Sup­port Man­agers at New Zealand Golf have worked with clubs on their cul­ture in or­der to im­prove per­for­mance. The work done cor­re­lates with the re­search below.

In 2012, Google wanted to know how to build the per­fect team. They found the best and bright­est re­searchers to pour through data and eval­u­ate both ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal teams. They re­viewed vast vol­umes of re­search and eval­u­ated 180 Google teams through more than 200 in­ter­views to dis­cover the skills and traits of the best teams.

Google found around 250 traits. They had a li­brary of data col­lected and an­a­lysed by so­ci­ol­o­gists, or­gan­i­sa­tional psy­chol­o­gists, and statis­ti­cians. From this data one im­por­tant reve­la­tion be­came clear: build­ing the per­fect team had lit­tle to do with find­ing the best peo­ple.

Their re­search found that there are five in­gre­di­ents that take tal­ented groups of peo­ple from good to great. They are:


Ev­ery suc­cess­ful team is built on a foun­da­tion of trust that arises from do­ing what is said would hap­pen on time and ef­fec­tively. Great teams have de­pend­able mem­bers. All the tal­ent in the world doesn't mat­ter if a team mem­ber isn't de­pend­able and doesn't build trust. To this point clubs are asked how their teams stay ac­count­able to their out­comes.

Struc­ture and Clar­ity

Great teams im­ple­ment this in­gre­di­ent with much fer­vour and in­ten­tion­al­ity. To cre­ate the per­fect team clubs are asked to be vig­i­lant about set­ting very clearly de­fined goals. They are also asked to en­sure ev­ery­one has de­fined roles and that “what is suc­cess” is clearly out­lined for each team and each per­son.


Great teams have a “why,” a greater pur­pose. A very clear per­sonal sig­nif­i­cance can en­gage, em­power, and unite groups, de­liv­er­ing greater out­comes. Peo­ple don't play golf just to hit a ball around a grass field, the sport adds life­long en­rich­ment to all who are en­gaged and none of that can hap­pen with­out the teams of peo­ple who de­liver the game. Clubs are asked to de­velop and ar­tic­u­late the “why” for their teams.


Team mem­bers need to work for some­thing greater than them­selves and to be ve­he­ment about sup­port­ing the greater good. In terms of golf, a doc­u­ment was de­vel­oped in 2017 that ar­tic­u­lates the ben­e­fits of golf to Auck­land.

This doc­u­ment “the Golf Sec­tor Plan for Auck­land” shows that we de­liver great health and well­be­ing, so­cial co­he­sion, en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the city. This is a value New Zealand Golf is very keen to grow.

The ques­tion we pose to our clubs, what legacy will you leave be­hind for your chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and so on. Suc­cess­ful clubs have teams that care.

Psy­cho­log­i­cal Safety

The most im­por­tant, and also the most-rare in­gre­di­ent of the per­fect team. Cre­at­ing a place of safety. This re­quires clubs to al­low team mem­bers to take risks, to have a voice and to ask judge­ment-free ques­tions. An en­vi­ron­ment where open hon­est ro­bust dis­cus­sions for the greater good are of­ten held and each per­son's opin­ion and point of view is re­spected. Most im­por­tantly upon a ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion be­ing made, all ac­cept the de­ci­sion.

Google's re­search is pretty clear - teams and lead­ers that in­stil and cul­ti­vate these five in­gre­di­ents will see a pro­found im­pact on team per­for­mance, be­cause they raise the stan­dards of the col­lec­tive and de­liver new ‘norms.'

The All Blacks for ex­am­ple, have clearly stated norms. They give each new mem­ber a “black book” that con­tains the say­ings, the ad­vice, the rules, and the ac­cepted val­ues of the team. Play­ers from gen­er­a­tions be­fore re­mind the new player what makes an All Black and how an All Black be­haves. They even have spo­ken mantras to re­mind team­mates of these norms – Sweep the sheds, for in­stance. And there are swift con­se­quences for be­hav­ing out­side these norms.

As golf club man­agers, ad­min­is­tra­tors, boards and com­mit­tee mem­bers the chal­lenge is to look at teams and iden­tify with their in­put where they sit re­gard­ing the 5 in­gre­di­ents iden­ti­fied.

And you, the reader - If you work or vol­un­teer at a club, how do you stack up with the five el­e­ments above?

If you're read­ing this as a par­tic­i­pant only, spend a mo­ment and look at the in­ter­ac­tions be­tween the rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the club. It is quickly ev­i­dent which of those clubs have great teams of peo­ple who want to be there ver­sus those who don't.

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