5 “Coaching” Tips To Get More From Your Employees

Jan. 9, 2015

You’re in business. You have employees. Now it’s time to take a group of individuals with different skills and drive them into one entity able to achieve a greater level of success. This is the endeavor of veteran vending operators and sport coaches alike.

Some of the best examples of teamwork are displayed on the field or court. Coaches spend a great deal of time building industriousness, loyalty, cooperation, initiative and greatness. One of the all time greatest coaches, and mentors, is John Wooden. For those that don’t know him, in short, he was an American basketball coach for the University of California - Los Angeles from 1948 to 1975. Among many accomplishments, he developed a pyramid of success which includes all of the elements of great teamwork, which he used to drive his UCLA team to ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period. There is also a John R. Wooden Award given annually to the most outstanding college basketball players.

Here are some of Wooden’s coaching tips and how to use them in your vending, micro market and/or OCS business.

1. Recognize A Good Job

Wooden is quoted as saying, “Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.” This means that recognition matters. It’s important in creating a cooperative, enthusiastic and loyal group of employees. Run an internal “Route Driver of the Week” contest judged by managers doing random inspections of locations. Use industry-wide programs, like Route Driver of the Year or Pros to Know, and publicly recognize employees.

2. Inspire Loyalty

Loyalty can rarely be bought, but it is a key driver to success, regardless if someone is on a team or an employee of a company. Wooden explains that loyalty from the top inspires loyalty from below. As humans we want to be part of something, and greatly prefer organizations that are fair and considerate. Do this, show a loyalty to your employees, and the company will thrive from this powerful and precious piece of an organization’s foundation.

3. Share Credit, Take Blame

Whether leaders are born or made, one thing all managers can do it to share credit and take blame. Wooden viewed this as part of cooperation and the level to which someone could be selfless made them a strong, self-confident leader or a weak leader. Train managers and salespeople to share location compliments with staff. Give a speech that includes specific operation successes at the annual meeting with employees. If something does go wrong, the buck always stops at the top. Work to fix the problem, don’t assign the blame.  

4. Remain Poised

This doesn’t just mean be yourself, but also to remain calm, balanced and in control regardless of the circumstances. Business can be tough, so can sports, on and off the court, but remaining calm avoids bad decisions made in haste. It also gives you the opportunity to hold to your principles and beliefs. Wooden often told players “The choices you make, make you.”

5. Be a Life Learner

Wooden had mottos for himself as well. One he attached to his office wall was “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” He considered learning, improving your skills of leadership, operation or athlete prowess, an ongoing and lifelong process. Start by reading industry journals, attending tradeshows, mastering how to use sales and inventory reports. Determine personal weak areas, pursue solutions and you will thrive.

Sports has often been used a metaphor for business, and for good reason. The success is shared by the team, failure by the coach. It conveys hard work and the exceptional ability for a group of individuals to achieve as one. Be the leader in making that greatness a “slam dunk.”