TEAM WORK BUILDS SUCCESS
Five things to take talented groups of people from good to great.
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.
BUILDING GREAT TEAMS
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.
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.