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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I can’t stand the suspense

Will Brian Ashton remain as coach of the England rugby team? Who knows? Apparently he was hired on a one-year contract with the only expectation being “we’ll see how we’re feeling next year.” I guess, instead of an actual contract, an agreement was hashed out over beers in a pub. “We don’t know what we want out of you. Even if you win every game, children toss rose petals at your feet, and you’re knighted by the Queen, we won’t know if you’ll be reappointed until we wake up on the last day of your contract and see what kind of mood we’re in.”

Is that any way to run a business? Not give one of the most important people in your organization clear expectations? Not commit to someone who you expect to commit every once of energy to you? When your organization is struggling and you bring in someone to turn it around, you don’t expect results immediately. And you certainly don’t expect fantastic results without giving the leader the authority to do what they need to do to achieve those results. Combine not giving clear expectations and not giving the proper authority, and it’s a wonder anyone would take the job in the first place.

Professional sports is an odd business. But it is a business and should be run like one. That means that plans should be made, goals should be defined, and the people involved should be given clear expectations. And when those expectations are made, the people must be given the authority and the resources they need so they can meet them. Expect a turnaround? By when, and what do you need to do it?

What does England rugby want? What are their expectations? To win every game? That’s not realistic, so what winning percentage is realistic? Define it. If winning percentage isn’t important, but winning the Six Nations tournament or the World Cup is, say it. Don’t diddle around and grumble afterwards if you hadn’t defined your expectations beforehand. What does your organization want? 100% on-time delivery, 100% satisfied customers, 100% growth of profits? What’s realistic? Define it, then give your CEO the authority and the resources they need to achieve your defined goals. Don’t just hire someone and wait a year to see what kind of mood you’re in to decide if they stay or go.

As for England rugby, make a decision. Define the expectations for the head coach. Make a commitment equal to the commitment you expect of the coach, meaning a multi-year contract at least. Provide the coach the resources they need, such as adequate time for the players to train and practice together, and management and administrative support. Communicate your long-term strategic plans, and develop and utilize an effective performance measurement system.

Don't forget to Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger

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