The basics of teamwork

meerkatsI cannot pass this week without mentioning the dramatic footballing efforts of Bradford City FC beating Premier League Giants Chelsea FC in the FA cup – the biggest shock result in the famous competition’s 143-year history.

This reminds me of Bradford’s previous exploits in early 2013 which I discussed when referring to high performing teams.  In that article I summarised the importance of a team’s focus on:

  • goals,
  • team member roles,
  • how people work together at a practical level
  • building  positive working relationships through mutuality & trust

This weekend’s technically excellent performance by Bradford at Stamford Bridge (Chelseas home ground) highlighted the importance of clear work processes – how people do the work. In this particular case of football: passing and shooting when in posession, and tackling and blocking when defending. The Bradford players excelled and this simple and straightforward work, supporting each other throughout the game. Whilst the millionaire Chelsea players may have had more skill and flair, they were overwhelmed by a team displaying high technical proficiency, high temp (and determination) and close discpline on the simple task of competing in the match.

Bill Shankly, the iconic football manager at Liverpoolin the 1960s and70s described what football involved: ‘Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple.

Those were the basic blueprints of the work, to which Bradford stuck.

Bob Paisley followed Shankly as Liverpool manager also talked about simplicity: “Some (football) jargon is frightening. They talk of “gettin’ round the back” and sound like burglars. They say “You’ve got to make more positive runs” or “You’re too negative”. That sounds as though you’re filling the team with electricians. But people talk like this without real depth or knowledge of what they’re really talking about.”

People need to know how to do the work in a straightforward way, getting what needs to be done, done. Leaders need to know what is happening and be able to explain what needs to be done in clear terms. Bradford City did this and everyone was suprised.

*** Are we allowing our own teams to focus on the right work? ***

Links:

Calvin M. (2015) Bantams produce one of the all-time FA Cup shocks after fighting back from two down to beat the blues. The Indpendent. http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/fa-league-cups/chelsea-vs-bradford-city-match-report-bantams-produce-one-of-the-alltime-fa-cup-shocks-after-fighting-back-from-two-down-to-beat-blues-10000547.html

Bob Paisley Quotes. http://www.bobpaisley.com/article/2532

Bill Shankly in Quotes. http://www.liverpoolfc.com/news/latest-news/bill-shankly-in-quotes

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