Rugby in the workplace

 Feb 24, 2016

Writing one blog about a schoolboy reminiscence has triggered a few more but the lessons from this anecdote are ones I have been saying in my business life for over thirty years. (Okay enough of the ageist jokes.)

At school, in my two last years, I had a rugby coach who was an ex-Wallaby from the end of the 60s. He harped on at the team about three principles that are as relevant to winning in business today as they are to playing rugby. So, you will often hear me quote them in the courses I train.

The first is pretty simple but it amazes me that many people are looking for some high fandangle answer when this one is right in front of them:

Basics done well win games.

Many people in Time Management,, Stress Management and even our New and Effective Manager courses, are looking for a miracle but not doing some pretty basic stuff. There can also be a tendency for some to go for the next big fad and take their sight off the under-pinning foundation; people skills.

The second one is one we often talk about in our Effective Negotiator program:

Slow the game down and play to your game-plan not theirs.

This was often followed by a rude joke called ‘Old Bull/Young Bull’ but that’s best left on the rugby field. It is easy to get caught up in someone else’s game-plan if you don’t have one of your own or you are only focused on the relationship and not also the outcome. Many people in our Assertiveness in the Workplace and Conflict Resolution courses can have this issue.

This also has correlations to management and time management where, according to Stephen Covey (Author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), we get caught up in the stuff that is urgent but it may not always be important.

The third principle almost sounds a bit like the golden rule of “Do unto others…” but it is a little more specific. It is:

Have sympathy for the receiver of the pass. This was about protecting your own; for any of you that know football parlance (League or Union) this was avoiding giving the ‘Hospital Pass’.

It didn’t mean go easy on the opposition but it did mean if it was a choice between you getting hit hard or your teammate you were about to offload to, getting ‘coat-hangered’, then take the hit yourself.

This is something I often bring up in Team Leadership and The New Manager, where poorly delegated work can lead to the delegate ending up either holding the accountability for poor performance or swamped in too many delegations at once. It also warrants a mention in Advanced Interpersonal Communication and Think on Your Feet® because our passes (Communication) can often be poor, resulting in the recipient fumbling. It is their fumble that’s often witnessed and remembered, rather than the ‘Hail Mary’ pass (poor communication) that preceded it.

Play better and enjoy the game!

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About the Author:

Tim Higgs  

Tim has been involved in the corporate training industry for over 15 years; seven of these have been as the Portfolio Manager and Senior Facilitator at New Horizons. Tim holds a Graduate Diploma (Psych/Couns), a masters' degree in Cultural Psychology and a bachelor's degree in Business, giving him a unique theoretical backdrop for understanding human performance in the workplace. This complements his actual experience of working within the corporate sector in sales and management positions and owning and running a small business. Having worked with individuals and groups in both clinical and business settings, Tim has a fantastic insight into human behaviour, motivation and the issue of human change.

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