#Agile #baseball coaching

My lack of blogs recently can be directly attributed to my coaching my son’s baseball team. It is no small amount of time and effort to coaching a team of ten boys, all around seven years old. But like all forms of coaching, it is one of the most rewarding things I have done in recent memory. I find this quite similar to the pure joy and satisfaction I feel by being part of a team. Coaching my son’s team did leave me with some interesting observations on coaching project and baseball teams.

Here are the few things I’ve noticed…

1) Just like project teams, sports teams are a collection of individuals at the start. We had a leg up on most teams as half the team knew each other from school. But I have really noticed that near the end of the year, the entire team has really grown to care about their teammates. This has resulted in the team encouraging each other on and offering to help each other whenever possible. I think about how we encouraged this and I believe it was helped by the coaches really caring that every person enjoyed their time and got better throughout the year.

I do believe we are now a team, and I remember when I noticed that. I remember that there was one pop out that my son was upset about that ended the inning. Running in there were two boys that told my son Matthew that it was a good hit and that he will get a hit next time.

That was cool. Now we have the team caring about each other and coaching each other. I think for the team to be successful, there can’t be just coaches and players. The players have to become coaches as well…

2) The incredible effect that coaches have on individuals. I’m sure this is related to the age of the team, but I have noticed that on almost every team that the team takes on the persona of the coach. Now sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes not so good. It did cause me to reflect on how I conduct myself with my project teams and ensure that I am abiding by the Prime Directive at all times. Sometimes during moments of frustration we can show more of our emotions, but it is good to remember that this can be modeled by team members in the future.

3) I noticed how much we complement good plays in sport but not at work. One thing I tried to emphasize with the players is that it isn’t the outcome of the play that matters, it is the hustle and effort. After every play I complimented my players as to their hustle. Now after every play, usually one of the kids will ask if that was good hustle. 🙂

One type of compliment has now turned into an increased work ethic for the team. This probably has had more impact due to the age of the boys, but it made me think about how little we compliment team mates at work and what the results would be if we did. Usually we just complain when something isn’t analyzed well or tested well. But do we take the time to compliment our team mates when these things are done well? Or do we just assume that is the way it should always be done?

4) Random snacks. Nothing builds excitements and energy like a random gift of treats. The boys still talk about the freezies that the coaches brought on the really hot day.

I never thought that coaching would reinforce how I can be a better coach and team-mate at work.

Final Thoughts

I have thought that in coaching at work and on baseball teams that the most important item was professionalism or sportsmanship. How the team reacts to adversity and good fortune tells a lot about their individual and team character. I think coaches can influence others by helping to build these skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Baseball skills come and go, sportsmanship will last their entire lifetime. I notice the lack of sportsmanship before anything else when I observe a new team. 

I believe you can’t be a great team or a great coach without sportsmanship and respect for the game. I think a good percentage of the coaching I do is projecting this behaviour in the hope that it will take hold like the ‘hustle’ coaching.

On the day after Father’s day, thanks to my father coaches that helped to reinforce these qualities in me. Larry Bunio and Robert Turner were great coaches who got their message through and cared about the right things.

Now its time to hopefully continue that tradition.

Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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