Psychology of Performance
In January, Castrol announced its partnership with the Premier League. While this agreement is allowing Castrol to promote its range of premium fluids and lubricants and grow awareness of the Castrol Service Network among a wider audience, the partnership goes deeper than just a pure sponsorship arrangement. Both Castrol and the Premier League share the same fundamental principles of fostering high levels of performance, whether it’s on the pitch, in engines, or within workshops.
To understand and identify the parallels between leadership traits that deliver superior levels of performance both on the pitch and in the workshop, Castrol has teamed up with leading sports psychologist, Martin Perry, to define what it takes to create and motivate a winning team. Perry has helped professional sports men and women in more than 32 different sports overcome performance-related challenges, and has regularly guided executives on how to apply sports team management best practice within blue chip businesses.
In this, the last of three features to appear in AM, Perry discusses four leadership skills that can be adopted by managers in motor sales and aftersales to raise confidence, boost ability and improve the smooth running of their teams.
“Effective communication is extremely important when trying to maximise team performance,” explains Perry. “The best leaders communicate their messaging clearly and openly, so everyone can understand the collective goal and the part they each can play in achieving it. It builds trust and increases the likelihood that people feel invested in the outcome. “Asking team members to confirm their understanding is also important, providing managers with the opportunity to correct misconceptions. “A great leader is also flexible in how they communicate with their team, adapting to reflect the unique character traits of individual team members,” continues Perry.
“Football managers will often give constructive feedback to the whole team by directing comments to an individual. A good manager will only choose a team member who they know will be able to understand and respond positively to the criticism. Ultimately, it all comes down to knowing individual team members and applying emotional intelligence.”
Effective two-way communication is also essential if someone needs additional support, whether their place of work is on the football pitch or in a workshop. If team members can rely on a decent level of support from their manager, they will almost certainly perform better. They will quickly recognise that the manager cares about their welfare, resulting in heightened levels of trust. What’s more, team members are more likely to go above and beyond to support both the leader and their wider team in the future.
“Whether you’re a seasoned football manager or a highly experienced workshop manager, the likelihood is you’ll be making quick-fire decisions on a regular basis,” says Perry. “A good leader should set enough time aside to make the most effective decisions. That breeds self-confidence for future decision-making. While the rhythm of decision-making may be slower in a workshop environment compared with on the pitch, where split-second decisions are vital to the state of the game, the same approach applies. “A leader should also make decisions based on their experience and gut instinct, and not solely from looking at analytics and past performance,” adds Perry. “Analytics can get you to a certain point, but a leader also has to act on nous, wisdom, knowledge of their team and experience. The best output is a mix of data with on-the-spot, intuitive decision-making.”
In any fast-paced environment, it’s not unusual for situations to occur or decisions to be made that lead to a less than positive outcome. This can, understandably, result in a collective lossof confidence, which, in turn, can lead to procrastination and delay in making effective decisions going forward. While an inexperienced leader might avoid asking for support, an effective one will take time out to look at the bigger picture, and get a second opinion if necessary. Openness and collaboration works wonders for effective leadership.
Team management skills
“Managing a team isn’t easy, but it’s essential to identify and nurture harmony between team members,” says Perry. “Each member of the team should know their role within the wider set-up. In football, a manager is looking for that twelfth player, a ‘collective’ of the 11. Each member will know what they need to do for the collective whole.”
Perry adds: “It’s also useful to create a team dynamic where there aren’t any conspicuously powerful or unengaged individuals. Quieter members of a team can be made stronger by boosting their confidence through praise, training and experience, while stronger characters should be encouraged into a more neutral stance. This can be achieved by highlighting their impact on other team members and inviting them to take ownership for driving a more positive dynamic.”
A decent manager will also want to help individual team members reach their goals. There needs to be a two-way exchange – a manager will help improve an individual team member’s performance if the individual gives something back in return. If successful, this helps build trust and forms the basis of a respectful working relationship.
The ability to inspire
Perry says: “Being able to inspire your team in a working environment is an invaluable skill. You can often inspire others through rhetoric, stories, quotes, humour and general humanity. Inspire your team and they’ll be much more likely to go above and beyond. Without offering any inspiration, a team risks flatlining, leading to less productivity and poorer performance.” Perry concludes: “The most powerful inspiration is the inspiration of a cause. A powerful cause creates a level of motivation that helps to turbocharge performance. The best managers are experts at defining and articulating that cause, and then securing team buy-in.” y
Alex Lindley, Managing Director of Lindley’s Autocentres, part of the Castrol Service Network, says: “Over the years I have seen team members grow into great leaders and managers. You’ll never see someone’s true potential until you empower them with their own projects and give them the support to flourish. This has been the key to our growth over the past 10 years, and has resulted in many truly remarkable team members.”
Sean Dyche, football manager, with 258 games’ experience managing in the premier league, says: “You can boil football management down into two essential ingredients: knowing the game and knowing your people. “Imparting your technical and tactical knowledge onto players to keep them improving and playing good football goes a long way to winning football matches, but it is the softer skills of communication, decision-making, team management and inspiration that deliver sustainable progress and success. With leadership comes responsibility to set the course and make decisions for the best interests of the group’s performance.
“You have to know your players personally, know what makes them tick, adjust to them accordingly, and build trust and commitment. “Football is a team sport, and how you positively manage the day-to-day is the glue that binds the group together and gets the best out of your talent.”