The Scottish Universities Rugby Team had recently been resurrected to play a one-off match against Scotland U19s. I was luckily enough to be their manager for this short sharp campaign of 4 weeks and last w/e saw the Students comprehensively beat the U19s by 24/7.
By no means ‘gloating’ on this but I thought it would be worthwhile sharing with you what we did on this campaign to deliver such a success. Being so short, there was not time to develop a strong team culture within the group so….
• Purpose: First up we had to be clear on our purpose – our why. For us, it was to put Scottish Universities Rugby back on the map and beat the U19s. This was clear, unambiguous and most importantly everyone bought into this from the outset.
• People: We had to get the right people on board to deliver this. Coaches, Physios, Analyst and above all players. Select the right coach who in turn selects a competitive squad puts you on the right road but by no means one where there is a pot of gold at the end of it.
• Planning: Planning by the coaches had to be spot on for the 4 sessions ahead of the match. They had to remain flexible to adjust to the weather conditions, injuries and progress of the players themselves.
• Environment: From an off-field perspective, we wanted to make the environment as professional as we could within the constraints we had (no budget). This required us to use our network to beg and borrow (never steal!) kit so that the players knew that they were involved in something ‘special’. In so doing this, players and management looked forward to the training sessions, remained motivated and quickly felt part of a team. For some players, this was ‘Their Everest’ so it had to be memorable for the right reasons. In short, we created an optimal environment in which we gave the coaches and players no excuses.
• Collaborative Approach: At every given opportunity, the management collaborated with the players empowering them to take on various responsibilities both on and off the pitch.
• Communication: Without very clear, agreed communication protocols from the beginning, delivering a result such as we did would have been difficult. At no stage during the campaign were coaches or players kept in the dark wondering what was happening. Sensitive issues such as selection were communicated clearly to players ahead of the day so that those not selected, knew that they were going to get a phone call from the Head Coach explaining why.
I would ask you to look at the above headings – can they be found in your place of work?
For me, they form some of the basic foundations when developing a high-performance team; be this in sport or business. If you asked me to pick out one it would be people as get this right, the rest will follow.
Go the students – proud of you.