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Friday, September 9, 2011

Pride, Tradespeople and a New Coach

Whitecap Gershon Koffie wonders what's gone wrong.
Regular readers of Useful Spaces will know of my love for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. To say our first season in the MLS has been a disappointment would be a major understatement. But even though the team wasn’t getting much in the way of wins, they had always played with a sense of pride.

Pride may be one of the seven deadly sins, but it is something I look for in every trade I hire. There are hundreds of trades-people available for hire at any given time. Of those, perhaps 20% of them could be referred to as skilled … or what I like to call craftsmen (sorry, crafts-people just doesn’t sound right to me). 

So what is it that separates one craftsman from another? For me, it’s the level of pride they take in the work that they do. The craftsman that does a project a specific way not because it’s the cheapest, or the quickest but because it’s the right way to do it, because he’d be proud to have his name associated with the job, that’s the kind of person you want working for you. This type of craftsman may cost a bit more than the others, but I can guarantee you that the cost is warranted, and not just for the quality of work you’ve hired him to do.

 Much like elite athletes, skilled craftsmen like this can be difficult to work with. They’re constantly holding themselves to a set of criteria that comes from years of doing things a certain way. They know what works and what doesn’t. These standards can result in them insisting work is done a certain way … and unfortunately that often impacts on the work of other trades who may or may not share the same set of standards.

At a recent project one of my trades had expressed a concern about some work performed by another trade … directly to the tradesperson in question. It wasn’t anything serious, but egos were bruised and I needed to be the coach for my “athletes” and remind them we were all on the same team working towards a common goal … the finished product and the happiness of the client.

He looks proud, right?
The past few games my Whitecaps seem to have lost their sense of pride.  They seem to have lost their sense of direction and are playing like a team without focus.  Last week the club signed a new coach; a young Scotsman by the name of Martin Rennie. His biggest skill as a coach is motivating players to re-discover their sense of pride. I have great confidence he’ll be very successful next season. The players on the team are all very skilled, they just see to have lost their way.  And if Rennie can't do it, I suppose if I can help focus trades people, soccer players shouldn’t be that much different …

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