Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness
Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness

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Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness

2 How does workplace culture affect feedback?

In sport and fitness workplaces, feedback is a key component in improving skills and overall working practices. You will now think about how workplace culture might influence the feedback communication style used.

A photograph of people working collaboratively.
Figure 2 Does your work culture influence creativity, collaboration or conflict?

Activity 2 Workplace culture towards feedback

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Listen to this audio, in which Kate Arneil and Michael Rosen discuss workplace culture towards feedback and praise.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: e119_2018j_aug007.mp3
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People have a sort of quid pro quo thing with work that you are hired to do a job and so you know you do the logistics of the job. But you forget the power of guessing people’s hearts is there and that’s for compliments and positive feedback as we recall it in probably more business jargon can be incredibly useful, really powerful actually because very often I work with companies and they will say ‘oh we only ever hear when we do things wrong and we don’t get anything positive.’ A well placed piece of positive feedback can be incredibly powerful and get people working harder for you, just to get people much happier in the work place.
But I'm a manager. I might think that what I've really got to do is do more stick and carrot here you know. I've got a lot of lazy people working for me and I'd better come in and I'm gonna say ‘hang on a minute – it’s one minute past nine and you're not here. You know I've got five other people outside waiting to have your job. What do you think you are doing?’ I can really feel my voice rising now. I'm getting angry with them. And then the next day will they turn up at nine o’clock instead of one minute past nine?
Well they might do but will do so grudgingly. I think you are absolutely right. It’s long been followed this carrot and stick approach. It’s the way to do it. It’s the way to do management, really tough. But actually more and more research is showing that the other way around can be far, far more productive. And supporting people and treating them with a bit of kindness, getting their hearts and understanding them when things are difficult so that when you do have maybe less than positive things to say to them they land in a much better context. If all people are used to hearing how awful they are when they’ve done something wrong they stop hearing it.
We do an exercise here where we ask people to list the things that motivate them the most at work and you would be surprised that the results show – the results show time and time again the thing that motivates people more than anything else is recognition. It’s recognition just being told that their work was of value. People want to know that they're doing stuff which is valued. They don’t want to spend their day doing stuff that isn't of value to people so pointing that out and just making that part of management it’s free. To not do it you are missing such an amazing trick. It’s much, much more than giving someone a pay rise. Funnily enough people say actually the recognition – that’s what really drives me at work.
Is that because we are kind of naïve? Are we all children or even younger than children? That we are babes and that what we want is to be stroked by mummy?
Well it’s interesting that you use the word ‘stroke’ because there is a fantastic chap called Eric Berne who wrote about something called transactional analysis. And he said we measure our interactions with people everyday and we need these things called ‘strokes’ which I mean as a child, as a baby of course a physical stroke is part of hugging. And as you get older they become moments of recognition between you and another person. So it might simply be a smile with your neighbour in the morning and that’s a pattern that you have and you get a stroke from that and it makes you feel good. It feeds your well being and as a manager, part of your job is to develop other people. In fact that is the biggest part of your job really. And you have to put yourself in their shoes and you know go to the level that they're at not the level that you're at or the level you want them to be or the level that you think they should be achieving. People tend to live in a world ‘well they should just do it. They should just know.’ And of course people don’t. They don’t know in that same way in this world of ‘"Shoulds". So what you have to do is to develop other people.
End transcript
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To what extent do the practices described occur in your sport or fitness organisation?

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Unless you work in, for example, a sales role in which humiliation for poor sales and ranking lists (sticks) are sometimes balanced with incentives for high sales, such as weekends away at a plush hotel (carrots), you are unlikely to see this traditional approach being widely used. You are more likely to see some management practices that attempt to recognise and value your work contribution, but of course, it is largely down to the approach of those who manage your work. If you work for yourself, you might practise enhancing the recognition you give to those you interact with. An organisation’s practices, its rituals, the social norms and accepted ways of working are often collectively known as ‘culture’. This is the context in which all interaction occurs and it influences communication.

To extend your learning about motivation and culture from the above audio the next section addresses a very topical issue in sports squads and tackles it head on with a challenging question.


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