Using Soccer to Get The Point Across

I recently read of an interesting survey of 23,000 employees across various industries regarding employee engagement and understanding of their business’s direction. Some of the results were as follows:

  1. Only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why.
  2. Only 20 percent were enthusiastic about their team’s and their organization’s goals; said they have a clear link between their tasks and their team’s organizational goals; and, fully trusted the organization they worked for.
  3. Only 15 percent felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals.

If I was a part of that survey, I would have likely contributed to the low rates of employee engagement and understanding of my employer’s big-picture goals. But as telling as the above results are, they are too abstract to have a lasting impact on the project manager, managing director or managing partner, let alone on the everyday reader. That is until you read an analogy that puts the above statistics in perspective. Drawing on the notion that almost everyone generally understands the game of soccer, the author continues, “If a soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only 2 of the 11 would care. Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.” Viewed from this perspective, one begins to understand how dismal most offices and work environments are. But they don’t have to be like that. I look forward to the day when I can work with my colleagues in setting and achieving clear and realistic goals and feel that the work I do is meaningful. This is not just wishful thinking. This can be done. It’s too bad that it’s not found in most workplaces.

Click here to see which book the statistics and the soccer analogy come from.


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