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

5 How can personalised feedback be developed?

In the workplace, it is often easy to forget that you work with a collection of individuals with different personalities and life experiences and that these people are likely to have subtly different needs or preferences for receiving communication. Some may want a direct approach (e.g. ‘just move your weight over this way a bit further’), while others may prefer a different style such as: ‘you need to explain the reasons why you think x will help, so I can understand it better’. Others may fall somewhere in between.

A photograph of a line of yellow plastic ducks, with one out of the line.
Figure 3 Plastic ducks are all identical but should all people be treated in the same way?

Activity 5 The power of speed coaching

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch this short video of a British coach developer working in the USA with elite sport coaches talking about a speed coaching exercise he finds highly effective in his work. How might speed coaching, or a similar exercise aimed at revealing individual communication preferences, be applied to your own situation?

Download this video clip.Video player: e119_2018j_vwr091-640x360.mp4
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The LA Galaxy Stadium - the setting for the Elite Coach Development Programme and our work with the first cohort of coaches and head coaches. Have you ever wondered why what works for one person doesn't cut it with another, why your style of processing people as a manager or a coach can leave some people cold?
Well, understanding this is key to leading managing or coaching and these guys have all three roles with their athletes, competing at the very highest level possible. A really good exercise we've done in various guises is speed coaching.


It's set up a bit like speed dating with two lines of people facing each other, everyone wearing a badge, which shows their own behaviour style. And in turn, they describe to their partner, if you were my coach, this is how you'd need to treat me to get the very, very best out of me. And this is the sort of behaviour as a coach you should avoid, because it's going to be counterproductive.
Then, their partner does the same. They discuss their differences, and after three minutes, they move down the line to the next person - a different person. It's a simple exercise, but again and again, it has a profound impact on people when they realise that what would work for them is not how someone else needs to be treated.
Now it's a classic light bulb moment for coaches, and for managers, and for leaders. People want to be treated as individuals and not processed as if they were all the same.
End transcript
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If sport and fitness organisations have a genuine interest in developing people, the video suggests they need to recognise that people want to be treated as individuals and not processed as if they were all the same. Identifying each person’s preferences may take time and effort, but this may well pay off in the longer term if it results in more effective implementation of feedback and open dialogue. It is likely that relationships between people in a sport team or organisation will improve if there is some recognition of each person’s individual communication preferences.

The question posed in this section may have got you thinking about developing people in the workplace. With this in mind, one American basketball coach took personalisation to the extreme. Watch this account of his unusual pre-game routine with his players: Meet the college basketball coach with dozens of handshakes and unlimited swag [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

This is not a pragmatic workplace approach, but it does illustrate how you should strive towards what Turnnidge and Cote (2016) describe as coaches and leaders displaying genuine care and concern for people.


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