Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Berhalter Mistake

There are reports out of Orlando that the Columbus Crew SC Head Coach (and Sporting Director) did not address his players after last night's embarrassing 5-2 loss Orlando City Soccer Club. If this is true, then he's made one of the biggest mistakes of his Crew career.

“I will address them on Monday but I have never been more disappointed with this group than we are now,” he said. “The performance was way below MLS standard let alone our own standard.” - Gregg Berhalter (via Columbus Dispatch)

Nothing good comes from avoiding your team after something horrible happens. It either looks like; A) You can't control your emotions and are "saving" your players from your fury... B) Looks like you are conflict averse... C) Feel all the blame lies with you and are not able to face the music like an adult, or... D) Aren't able to gather your thoughts.

If you you've listened to any of the RCiH podcasts over the past year you'll know that we here at Helltown are fairly concerned with Berhalter's workload. Not from a tactical or organizational perspective but from a Management (Leadership) one. Same goes with this result from last night. We've seen some matches this year where players have just dropped into cruise control once down and endured early game goals and goals coming right after half - facts and figures that suggest the team just isn't ready after they are talked to by the coaching staff.

The concern last night is with the man management tactic Berhalter took last night. The absolute wrong time to avoid your players is right after mistakes. When it comes to bad performances or horrible mistakes it's always better to address them right then, there - and move on. If a key person or two are devastated then you work on putting them back together no matter the cost to you. This is being a leader of men. 101 stuff.

You hear coaches say all the team things like "this is in the past and we are moving on." It's a cliche to be certain but one I rarely see coaches actually abide by in reality. By the time tomorrow gets here and he addresses the team (and / or punishes them) it actually is in the past and he is wasting valuable training and preparation time. On top of that, the players will also have moved on emotionally from it and reprimanding them will only piss them off and set the stage for a poisonous environment.

Mistakes will be made over the course of the normally short window most coaches get in MLS. This sort of approach should be worrisome for anyone that wants a team that is challenging for trophies and not lost in the middle of the table (or worse) year after year.

Leadership experience: For the past ten years I've managed a regular full-time staff of 40-60 employees with a group of 10 on my leadership team and 2 in senior floor positions. During peak times my group will grow to over 150 employees across two shifts in a metrics driven manufacturing environment. Of course this isn't "sports" but most of the challenges in leadership are transferable (X's and O's notwithstanding, working on that part though...).

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