The Coaches Clipboard: a Playbook for Business

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October 24, 2013 by Rick Brammer

I love sports and like to use examples and analogies from the sports world to make a point or to explain what I am attempting to convey. As I was reading about the passing of legendary Texas football coach, Bum Philips, one of his quotes really struck home, “Coaching is not how much you know. It’s how much you can get players to do.” This led me on a search for synonyms for coaching and I found quite the list: education, schooling, teaching, instruction, tutoring, and my personal favorite—preparation.

As business coaches we are always looking for ways to get the most from our team. Preparing them to meet any and all challenges is a great way to do this. Preparation is more than just teaching someone how to do a task. It requires thought, communication, and an understanding of the individual.

It’s very important to know each member of your team. This will enable you to coach to their individual strengths and weaknesses, and gives you an understanding of what motivates them. The more you know someone the more effective you can be at communicating with them—the more you are assured that there is a true understanding of what is being conveyed.

Very little in business, or in life for that matter, is black and white. Sometimes when teaching people try to create that little box where everything is supposed to fit. Well guess what, life doesn’t care about those little boxes. No matter how well educated you are on a subject there will be twists and turns that are unexpected. Proper preparation means you have viewed potential obstacles and outcomes, and have thought through how to respond to each. Simply educating only provides the knowledge, not necessarily the ability to react. A great quote by non-sports figure, Benjamin Franklin, states, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

So as coaches how do we prepare our teams? We do not get the benefit of practicing all week for the big game—our game is played out all day long every day. Whether it is serving customers, working with team members, or creating a work product, the opportunity to create a positive (win) or negative (loss) happens over and over each day. I believe one of the basic fundamentals in preparation is establishing expectations. By doing so, you create a backstop or safeguard. These expectations can be stated as mission statements and principles, work instructions, goals, or performance expectations. Typically all of these tactics used in concert create a winning solution. Individuals have to understand what you, the coach, expect from them in all situations. Since time is valuable, you cannot realistically run through every conceivable situation and prepare for each, but what you can do is prepare the individual on a larger scale. For example, one of our guiding principles is “adherence to all laws and regulations without fail.” Coaching individuals to understand this principle will allow them to respond accordingly when presented with a situation where they need to make this call.

Communicate, understand, teach, and prepare; these are all tools in a coaches playbook used to maximize the potential in each team member. After all, as Roger Maris said, “You hit homeruns not by chance but by preparation.”

Rick Brammer is President and co-owner of United Credit Service, Inc. Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at or call 877-723-2902


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