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HR lessons from the Australian cricket axings

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HC Online | 13 Mar 2013, 12:00 AM Agree 0
It’s not every day four key players in the Australian cricket side are axed from a major international test. Was the action heavy handed or a message that needed to be sent - and what performance lessons can HR apply in the workplace?
  • kevin | 13 Mar 2013, 05:17 PM Agree 0
    One week we are sacking miners for daring to have a few minutes fun dancing during a tea break.
    Next week we are standing down key personnel because they did not do their homework.
    By comparison we have massive corruption being exposed in the previous NSW labour government, massive overspending by the current federal government, union power going beyond anything previously seen and yet all these people keep their jobs. The world truly has gone mad. Relativity is dead. I feel for the miners and the cricketers.
  • Leanne Faraday-Brash | 13 Mar 2013, 05:27 PM Agree 0
    I agree with Mary that setting the tone for what's acceptable and what's not is critical to establishing good cultural norms and a robust feedback culture is essential, in elite sport as in other workplaces. A few points though...
    Sidelining non-compliers is reasonable as long as the punishment fits the crime. The punishment sends a message but is it proportional? Michael Clarke should not judge the appropriateness of the punishment by what the media think or former players who played in a different era and with a "win at all costs mentality". That's the same as keeping on the top salesperson even if they're a bully or a sexual harasser. Clarke should judge the suitability of a consequence by the culture he wants to instil and by being consistent with stated goals and standards.
    If this transgression was used as a pretext to send a wakeup call and these players were scapegoated for other laxness in the team, that's not fair. Whatever we do or don't sends a message. But never punish just to send a message. I suspect in the wake of publicity about AFL players, cycling and our Oz swimming team, the time was ripe to shake up cricket and this was a good reason to do it. I hope they are as strict about other "off field antics" as these players are high profile and represent their country.
    Not handing in one's homework might seem on this occasion to have attracted a detention and might seem old school but we get the behaviour we deserve. We get the culture we're prepared to tolerate.
  • Dr Tim Baker | 13 Mar 2013, 05:27 PM Agree 0
    I think the HR lessons from the Australian cricket team situation recently are lessons of what not to do.

    The appropriate thing for the coach to have done is to have a team meeting and to encourage the individual players to share their thoughts and ideas on 'where to from here'. Asking the players to do this individually seems like a very strange approach.

    I'm not sure - as the article implies - whether the coach explained the consequences of not completing the set task. Had he done so, I think most - if not all - would have done the task, albeit grudgingly. The whole thing was done very poorly.

    Had the coach pointed out some of these lapses in standards earlier, perhaps he would not have had to resort to the drastic measures he took.

    Now he will really have to demonstrate mastery of communication to bring what's left of the team together.

    Definitely lessons that should not be applied in the workplace, I would have thought.
  • Charles | 13 Mar 2013, 11:24 PM Agree 0
    I am disinclined to form a view based on media "facts" and selective statements. Notwithstanding, if the reports are reasonably accurate, how can a professional organisation act so amaturely. Suspending 40% of the team penalises the other compliant 60%. This is a team sport not individual sport which is similar to workplaces. It seems that there have been other issues that collectively requires decisive management.
  • Leslie Allan | 13 Mar 2013, 11:44 PM Agree 0
    This episode really is a lesson on how not to go about getting feedback and improving performance. No wonder HR has such a bad name. Or did they get in a bunch of external consultants and then left their brains at the door?

    Tim Baker is dead right. Were the consequences communicated clearly and often? Why choose a feedback activity that puts each team member in isolation and gets them to do it in a way that they hate doing?

    Sport is a team activity. Why shouldn't the debrief and thinking about new strategies and tactics also be a team activity. This promotes interpersonal communication and bonding and the building of good ideas on the good and not so good ideas of other members in the team.
  • Richard Brincat | 14 Mar 2013, 08:46 AM Agree 0
    I tend to agree with Mary that especially in the context of what the leader is trying to establish in terms of a performance culture. To set the right culture you need to establish a set of behaviours that all must abide by. The consequences you see are the result of those not wanting to follow those behaviours. There should never be any exceptions, if you don’t apply consequences you cannot build a performance culture. The fact the vice-captain was stood down sends a very clear message to all that this is a standard that will not be compromised and all team members now know what is expected of them in terms of behaviours. Can you imagine if the vice-captain was not reprimanded for breaching this task?. The team quickly loses respect for leadership and discretionary and emotional commitment wane. In the context of a sporting team the level of discretionary and emotional commitment has significant impact on results. That was evident in the 1st 2 tests where players underperformed.
  • Leslie Allan | 14 Mar 2013, 08:48 AM Agree 0
    This episode really is a lesson on how not to go about getting feedback and improving performance. No wonder HR has such a bad name. Or did they get in a bunch of external consultants and then left their brains at the door?

    Tim Baker is dead right. Were the consequences communicated clearly and often? Why choose a feedback activity that puts each team member in isolation and gets them to do it in a way that they hate doing?

    Sport is a team activity. Why shouldn't the debrief and thinking about new strategies and tactics also be a team activity. This promotes interpersonal communication and bonding and the building of good ideas on the good and not so good ideas of other members in the team.
  • Dr Tim Baker | 14 Mar 2013, 05:17 PM Agree 0
    Kevin, I agree: The punishment is way over the top. I am all for setting standards Leanne, but I'm not entirely sure that this was the way to do it. Why not pull those four offenders aside and explain to them what they have done (or in this case what they have not done). Notwithstanding Charles point about how accurate the reports are, we have to be mindful that our actions don't punish the other players who are 'doing the right thing'. Indeed Leslie, cricket is a team sport and therefore asking people in isolation to reflect seems counter to the team ethos. I agree with Richard that setting standards is part of leadership. But it is also part of leadership to sell the reasons why something ought to be done and how that will benefit the team culture.

    It is a great example of what we should not do in the workplace.
  • Move them on ! | 15 Mar 2013, 09:04 AM Agree 0
    Not doing their job, get rid of them and get someone else who will do the job,with the big mega bucks they are getting paid, they should have done their homework.Strike One....you are out of a job.
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