• Kevin Chun

Applying organisation psychology management to the coaching of a football team:

Applying organisation psychology management to the coaching of a football team:

As a coach or in any leadership role you need to make a decision that will affect people. Therefore, no matter what role you take in organisation weather you’re required to lead a team, manage a group of people, or deliver a product to customers the actions you take and do will have an impact upon people.

Therefore, it is important for business to develop frameworks for managing relationships and people within the organisation. We can learn from some of the companies with happiness rated employees in the workplace such as Cisco Systems or Saleforce. Where cultures are in place that not only provides a more optimized workforce but also a happy workplace that leads to higher staff attendance and staff retention.

We can look at a proposed framework for such an organisation – in this, the aims are to create a culture of empathy, openness and expression:

1. Providing purpose and meaning - this includes putting every activity or project into a global context remove reductionism and sharing a global view with employees.

2. Rewarding employees – this not just a rigid target system or KPI's but also just saying well done every day or senior managers going to the work floor and acknowledging staff work and commitment. Part of this also is feedback not only to the employees down the chain but having an open forum to give feedback up the chain of command.

3. Give staff opportunities - not just training but experiences and the pathway to advance.

4. Empower staff to do their job – micromanagement is a killer and destroys motivation. Setting a structure and framework of what is expected and how it is acceptable for employees to act is important rather than handing prescribed procedures (unless it’s a legal requirement).

5. Bring a strong sense of belonging – in the past this may be through uniform but actually, it’s more through developing relationships and proactively managing interactions to ensure any friction or issues are mediated quickly and resolutions are found. Developing trust and relationships across departments are equally important. Putting staff into silos leads to their work losing context and create distance between the requirements of the business and employees.

6. Create a staff environment – not only in following laws such as health and safety, etc but also having an environment where staff can raise concerns or problems to management without fear of reprisal. We must do this as insecure workers not only breed a culture that leads to more conflict but also it means the business can lose out on innovation and the new thinking can that come from new staff. The importance of being open for what could be viewed as negative criticism is important if you want to also get the good ideas that could take the organisation to a new level of success...

How do we apply this in football?

Each team is an organisation of people interacting with each other to achieve a common goal. The same as a business or charity. Therefore, good practice in business that leads to the development of staff and a happy environment more specifically ones that encourage creativity and expression are good models for us to consider and attempt to team sports.

Based on the proposal above and a lot of learning in psychology and coaching through FC Barcelona and the FA I have developed my own 6 point proposal called PROBES that I apply when coaching:

1. Purpose – agree shared objectives, focus activities on that objective and put the session and exercise in context. Avoid reductionism and isolation of elements so that the purpose of the activity and context remains clear.

2. Reward– constant feedback both ways, active listening to players and staff, using multiple channels to provide feedback and reinforce positive action and hold forums to allow players and staff to share their views.

3. Opportunities – layout a clear pathway of progression, provide opportunities relevant to everyone that could be giving them time to discuss through matters or pointing out extra activities they can do to support them. Clear signposting to extra support or other opportunities.

4. Belonging – players belonging is more than just kits and badges. It built through working on the pitch but more importantly off the pitch. You learn more about each other through a half-day of orienteering then 1 hour playing football. In team building its important to include exercises that aim to build relationships and give people the chance to develop interactions and encourage positive communication across the pitch. Its equally important that staff are involved too in these exercises so players develop a relationship with the staff and can then feel more secure in expressing themselves.

5. Empowerment and expression – players need to be empowered to make their own choices and then be accountable for them afterwards. Empowerment means being silent and letting the players play and communicate amongst themselves. Post activity using video and “Chinese parliament” (Military term for a meeting where commander or leader take suggestions from all without the burden of rank or experience) to elicit feedback and work with the players to come up with alternative proposals to the exercise allowing freedom to express and experiment.

6. Safe – when coaching the environment must be safe and appropriate. Inappropriate facilities breed insecurity. That insecurity has a negative impact not only upon the team’s ability to play but upon their ability to form meaningful interactions. As is the same in business safe means providing a space where people feel secure to raise issues and give feedback without retribution.

The most important point is 6 as an unsafe environment undermines all the other proposals. Without safety, the human as an entity behaves differently than when they placed in a safe and secure environment with people who they trust to speak truthy too. Equally people do not express themselves well or produce their best work when operating in a climate of fear.

As coaches, we should not be afraid to review and learn from top business. A business managers job is to optimise performance and achieve objectives is not too different from the work

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