Teams need managers and more often than not, great teams have great managers. I reckon that the Indian cricket team is in dire need of one. For the Indian cricket team, we have two immediate managers in the form of Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappel (of course, we could debate the question on who wields or should wield more power and control!).
When I look at the outstandingly dismal performance by the team in recent times (even at home!), I feel compelled to understand the reasons behind it. The Indian cricket team has great individuals. We have the Great Indian Batting Line-up with Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dravid, Dhoni etc. But, inevitably it collapses every time the “Blue Billion” is glued to the TV sets.
Using the little workplace management experience that I have, I decided to use the Employee Engagement model from The Gallup Organization to understand what is happening to the Indian team. You can find a primer on the model here. Gallup’s extensive research shows that the 12 statements used in the model are the best measures of psychological commitment to a role and indicators of performance. I decided to pick up some of these statements and see how they apply to the Indian team.
The first question measures a very basic need of employees “Role Clarity”. People need to know what their role in the team/organization is. I feel role clarity in the Indian team is scarce in many quarters. You sometimes have Agarkar bowling with the new ball alongwith Zaheer Khan and you sometimes have Irfan Pathan doing the honours. Again, Irfan Pathan – is he supposed to bat or bowl or open or come 1st down or be an all-rounder or…the list goes on. The captain himself appears unclear about the level at which he should bat.
If the role clarity is lacking, there is very little possibility of getting to work on things that you are best at. So, Dinesh Karthick comes into the team as a specialist batsman instead of a wicket-keeper and V V S Lakshman is included for a 20-20 overs game. Recognition is pretty much out of the question, given our performance. Even words of comfort are a distant dream.
Next, comes the issue of encouraging development. What development? Development happens only when you stay in the team and not out of it. Team changes, it appears, is a favourite past-time and is soon likely to be recognized as a national hobby. Every one wants to feel important and counted, but I am not very sure how the equations are within the team. Whose opinions matter and whose don’t has been a popular debate in the media in recent times.
Recent Gallup research showed that a seemingly simple statement about having a ‘best’ friend at work makes a huge difference to important business outcomes. I don’t know if the team members get the time to make deep bonds in the team. The team is far ahead of some of the leading call-centers in India in terms of attrition. Apart from our ‘stalwarts’, the remaining members hardly stay there in the team. Mr. Chapel apparently follows a very strict “Garbage-In-Garbage-Out” policy, but of course we recycle garbage!
At the pinnacle of the engagement pyramid, we talk about aspects like growth and progress. Again, this can happen if you are a full-time member of the team and not just a “visiting player”. Going by the current pace of team changes, I am sure we will have a sizeable number of cricket players whose claim-to-fame would be “played 2 test matches and 3 ODI’s” for the Great Indian Cricket Team.
There is indeed a need for greater structure in the team management. There is a need for stability. There is a need for consistency. Let’s not forget that cricketers, at the end of the day, are humans too. They have their own set of needs, explicit or implicit and these needs have to be managed for a team to be productive.