November 19, 2008

Is your 'A team' truly the best?

Every year at high school we’d do netball grading. A handful of mothers involved in school netball would watch lots of us play and grade us – choosing the teams A, B and C and mixing the rest up. I found it odd, that every year the children of those women doing the grading made it, without fail into the A team. They filled the rest of the team with ‘popular’ kids and the ‘A team’ was miraculously formed. I’m not sure if the parents had their rose tinted glasses on or if they truly believed their kids were a cut above the rest. To us ‘average’ lot, their netball skills were just as fine as ours. They weren’t special, they didn’t have X factor, they just played the game like the rest of us. It seemed at our corrupt and biased netball trials it was all about ‘who you know’ or how blatantly obvious your mum was prepared to be about favouritism.

Favouritism took a serious turn in the NZ army. ‘Show ponies’ were sent on important missions only to crumble under pressure. The mission commander learnt a lesson about choosing for the right reasons the hard way. Their silly choices actually put lives in danger.

As a boss you need to get real about choices you make. Even when you believe you have chosen based 100% on skill, you could totally be kidding yourself. Your employees could be reeling about the corruptness and favouritism they are sure they are seeing. If you feel you should choose the ‘better qualified’ person for a task, but you choose the slightly less qualified one instead, you may be wonderfully surprised with the results. If you don’t give a variety of people a go, you’ll never know if they are up to it. Delegate authority but KEEP responsibility – if it all goes wrong YOU wear the blame.

Back to the netball team, I am glad I wasn’t one of the ‘chosen ones’. I wanted to achieve through talent, not through dodgy grading. The kids that made the A team, are still around, many now VERY used to things being delivered on a silver platter. If I ever do netball grading I think I’d be a parent who’d put their kid in the crap team – to teach them about hard work. If they want to make the A team they won’t do so because of me – they’ll have to get themselves there.

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