Broadcasting for a losing team

On my drive into the office last week I was listening to sports radio. The two announcers were critiquing the previous night’s baseball game in detail; they did not have one positive comment to offer. The local team had lost and looked pretty bad in doing so, but still, the dialogue seemed a little harsh.

You might counter with, ‘well, they are getting paid to play a game, we should be able to criticize; they are holding themselves out to the public, right?’

What if everyday you rolled into work there was somebody watching your every move? Every little miscue or non-productive effort was not only noticed, but re-capped, written about and publicly broadcast to the entire community?

You are getting paid too, right? You are being held accountable, right? What is the difference?

It might go something like this

Announcer 1: Did you see the condition Dorman was in when he showed up for work today; it looked like he had a little too much fun last night. He has continually been late for work and really needs to be put on the clock to improve. Was that pine needles in his hair? Didn’t he wear those same clothes yesterday?

Announcer 2: That seems to be a habit of his lately; I remember his rookie year and always being eager and the first to show up.

A1: How about the first 3 calls he made, it was obvious he was ill-prepared and maybe needs to get back to basics and practice on his technique some more. In addition to being ill-prepared, he is no longer willing to take chances and step out; the effort just doesn’t seem to be there.

A2: Practice? Maybe sending him back to the minors will wake him up and do some good. If he was as good on the phone as he was draining the coffee pot, the club might be able to break even with him.

A1: Did you see what time he went to lunch? He makes 3 calls and already taking a break, that would have never happened 10 years ago. He continually misses targets but if you suggest making more calls he will bite your damn head off.

A2: Speaking of lunch, it sure doesn’t look like he’s missed many. Maybe if he was making more calls instead of putting the ‘all you can eat‘ buffet out of business he could save some money for that wardrobe.

A1: For the kind of money they pay the guy, you would think he wouldn’t look like Salvation Army was his haberdasher. When do you think was the last time he shined his shoes?

A2: The guy is really slipping; how long is management going to keep him around? There has to be at least 10 guys on the street who can do twice as much for half the pay; what are they waiting on?

Wow, that light sure is bright….and hot….

Ok, that was a little tongue-in-cheek but you get the gist. What if your performance, or lack thereof was scrutinized to that degree? Do you think you could just put it out of your mind and perform to the best of your ability, or would the added pressure just magnify your weaknesses?

And you are not critiqued just once; this is every single day you show up to play (work). How hard is it to be ‘on’

Yeah, that win was great last month, but what have you done for me lately, right?

No rest for the weary indeed……….

Is your team a winner?

Are your announcers proud being associated with you and your team? Will they be wearing your team colors around town?

If you get stuck in that non-performance rut and need something different, what will you do to shake it up? Work harder? Longer? Or, smarter?

How do you keep it fresh and exciting while maximizing your productivity?

I’ll close with this, if you watch an hour long TV show and deduct the commercials, how much actual TV show is there? If you were to encapsulate your day, how much time is actual production time versus everything else? How much more profitable could you be if you increased that productivity by only 10%? 20%?

Food for thought.


47 thoughts on “Broadcasting for a losing team

  1. Funny guy. I almost shot coffee out my nose this morning reading that. Somehow self-deprecating humour was not what I was expecting from you. 😉

    Love the tv commercial analogy. You are so right. Productivity is very hard to maintain. You just have to wonder what is enough. We estimate time for our projects each week and fill peoples hours to 100% with the expectation that they will be 80-90% productive. While it’s a good target we certainly fall painfully shy especially in the summer months.

    Maybe we need to get some colour commentators to hone in on a few of us to see if it will improve. No way! That is really what is so challenging with pro sports and the armchair athlete who sits back and judges it all. Social is a lot like that too. In a way. Sorta.

    Have a great day and shine those damn shoes, Dorman.

    • Shoe shine boy………

      Certainly some days are more productive than others but trying to maintain it on a very high level, day after day, week after week can be hard. Sometimes you do have to step back and look at the whole body of work instead of each individual day. The key is to see what patterns are developing and not to let the bar keep slipping lower.

      Whatever is considered the minimum level of acceptance, even improving that by 10 or 20% can be a noticeable difference in productivity.

      It’s already daunting enough to be in outside sales and have your results posted monthly/yearly for everyone to see. If you had the color commentator at your desk everyday you might want to look for a new job, huh?

      Good to see you sir, hope your weekend was well.

  2. Interesting that I should read this just after I started re-reading for the second time Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive”, which basically says: carrots and sticks approach doesn’t work (especially sticks). Focusing on what someone is doing wrong does not inspire greatness.

    There’s also a wonderful book and video entitled 212 degrees, that talks about applying one additional degree of effort to everything one does, and demonstrating how much more productive and effective one can be by doing so. If one degree of difference makes a huge difference, that 10 to 20 percent could rock the world:)

    BTW…I think you should buy that suit;) Great post, my friend. Love the firmly planted tongue in cheek that delivers a solid message. Cheers! Snowshoes

    • Yes, a 10% improvement would be very tangible.

      A good manager will find someone’s ‘why’ and a carrot or stick approach will usually not motivate to get that extra percent out of an employee.

      I’ve heard of that book, I might have to check it out.

      That suit rocks, doesn’t it? I think I could sell some insurance if I was stylin’ and profilin’ with that gear on.

      Good to see you; hope it was a dancin’ on the bricks weekend.

  3. My, you are getting serious eh?

    Productivity is quite difficult to actually measure at times and even tougher to maintain. There are a lot of dynamics that go behind being productive. And the fact remains that someone will always be there to criticize you. Like, when we were studying organizational psychology, we discussed about how I can come up with a great product today and then, nothing, zilch.

    But that doesn’t mean, I am a loser or a crappy employee. Might be a whole lot of things. But then, people are going to remember me for the person who never could come up with anything else besides “that one big thing”. So yes, how does one really keep it fresh and exciting while making sure you are productive in one way or the other?

    • It’s a challenge and the motivation has to come from within. There are so many distractions and negativity, it can creep in and weigh you down if you allow it.

      What about assembly line jobs where you are doing the same thing over and over and over; how do you get excited about something like that? How can you shake it up?

      One hit wonders; what if that is all they’ve got? Does that mean they weren’t successful?

      It’s certainly a lot easier whatever you are doing you actually like doing it, huh?

      Hey Ramadan, I heard it was plenty hot where you are; hopefully you can get hydrated enough after sundown………good luck.

      • But even when you like what you are doing, you are bound to have days when you think why, where and how. So it does get tough to freshen things up everyday or maybe even regularly. Maybe all we need is a change of attitude. If we learn to be excited about every day in itself then we might somehow see the change we really want to. Maybe I can’t change my mundane job but I can change how I lead the rest of the day.

        It is plenty hot. about 110 F these days; but yes, bless the guy who made air conditioning possible

  4. Ooooh! This is funny Bill. Do me do me! No,wait, never mind! I don’t think l I’d perform well under such intense scrutiny. I never thought of it that way for those athletes! 😮

    Your second-last question has me in knots. I’ve got so much to do this morning but that does involve checking Facebook since I launched a special at TCP there, but then I get distracted by a pretty photo that Kaarina posted and then I had to come here and see what you were saying…..
    I repeat- don’t scrutinize my work. As long as I tick off the important things, right?

    • It is so, so easy to get ‘busy’ in here isn’t it? Sometimes it’s productive and you are getting what you want done; but we also know a lot of times we are just chasing to try and keep up to a certain degree.

      There are some pretty good measurement tools we use on the service and sales side in my business so we at least have a benchmark to see how much people are working. But even then you have to dig down and see the type of work being done; some of it is much more detailed than others and takes more time.

      Realistically, just like a TV show, if your production was equated to what the actual TV time was in a given hour after you took out the commercials; that would be a productive hour indeed.

      Something to think about, just by increasing it by 5% would be a good number.

      Good to see you; thanks for stopping in.

  5. I think Adam Scott might like to read your post. He is going to be plagued with Monday morning quarterbacking for the rest of his life. If he goes to a bar to drown his sorrows he will probably find Tiger Woods there.

    • 4 up w/ 4 to go; yours to lose Adam………..and he’s one of the good guys too. If you think social is fickle however, golf can just flat break your heart if you let it. You might get really, really good at the game; but you will never master it………and that’s the truth.

      Thanks for stopping in; much appreciated.

  6. Hi Bill, I agree, it’s all about the positive energy. That’s why I don’t slam tech on my blog. Why waste the readers’ time writing about bad tech or tech that doesn’t work? Write about the greatest stuff, that’s what people want to know about.

    It also must be a lot of pressure to be earning all that money that makes people jealous. The expectations are so high for success that I don’t know how anyone can perform up to their potential.

    You’ll begin to understand this as your video goes viral and the movie contracts start pouring in!

    • I know some people who work really hard, do a great job day in and day out, but management tends to focus on the negative. Never praising but quick to criticize; not a good management style I’m afraid. How much more productive do you think this person could be if management just reversed their style and looked for the good?

      Yes, the stakes tend to rise when someone is getting paid millions; you should have high expectations of them, right?

      I truly believe if I knocked it out of the park and got crazy rich I would still be hanging around my same friends. Keepin’ it real………..:).

  7. I can’t work for or with people who are negative. I’m not talking about a bad day type of negative either. It sucks the life out of me, distracts me, and ends up being very contagious.
    I relearned something this weekend: give something that needs to get done to a busy person. They always deliver! So true for me. When I have a full schedule I use my time better and even schedule play in better.

    • Yes, I too avoid negative people; don’t come to me with your complaints, I want solutions.

      I also agree with your busy person statement and getting things done. The truly busy people seem to be the most successful and able to get the most done w/ the time they have.

      I hope you had a great weekend; good to see you.

  8. I don’t watch the news anymore Bill because they never have anything nice to say. We’re always reporting about the horrible things that happen and just like with the sportscasters going back and forth, you often don’t hear about all the good that they’ve done. Heck, no one’s perfect even if you are paying them a million bucks.

    I think if they praised people more often for the good they did, they would want to do even better. I know that was always the case for me. It’s just a thought but thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    Loved the commentary by the way!

    Have a great week Bill.


    • I tell you what’s worse than the news right now is all the political ads………..yikes…….. talk about negative.

      It is way to easy to criticize, but until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes it’s probably best if you don’t have anything good to say, just don’t say anything at all, right?

      I had fun with this post; I was going to spice it up a little more, but probably squeezed as much as I could out of it.

      So good to see you today.

  9. The professions that have that never-ending spotlight are really much more difficult than they were even a generation ago. Politics, entertainment, sports — everything is dissected 24-7, and often by people who care more about whether their sound byte was witty as opposed to whether their analysis was fair.

    I like where you took it though, as a tool for self-analysis. What if a spotlight was shined on our days? We would probably all see room for improvement; I know I would.

    • Since I’m in sales it’s very easy to ask myself ‘what have you done to improve the bottom line today?’ It’s very easy to get in the ‘busy’ trap and find things to do instead of production. Realistically, in our world if you were fully productive on Tues, Wed & Thurs every single week, 40 weeks out of the year, you would do quite well.

      How do you think JFK would have done under the scrutiny the President is under these days. Not so good probably, just ask Marilyn Monroe……

      If you see Kaarina’s response, even moving the needle 1% can be big.

      I think you were right about the 11 to 10 score instead of 27 to 26; I just knew to stay away from 50………:). I guess going to breakfast got you stuck in the traffic, yuck.

  10. I’d love to get all the critics. I perform better under pressure 🙂

    Well, maybe not that type of attention. But, on the other hand, when you are winning, you get “everything” and that might be worth it 🙂

    Great post Bill (as always).

    • In my world, when sales are good then basically you can do no wrong. It’s when sales dip and you don’t have enough prospects in the pipeline you can get frustrated. However, the only place you really need to look is at the mirror. You are either getting it done or you aren’t. No magic formula, just do it, right?

      Just be nice to the people on your way up to king of the hill, because you will probably see them again on your way down…….

    • So the Yanks got Ichiro; Seattle wasn’t going to sign him again after this year anyway, I just didn’t think he would leave Seattle (like Griffey, Jr). I’m just surprised they didn’t want the Dek from the Rays…….or Brooks Conrad; now that’s a lineup that will strike fear in your heart.

      PS – I see a tweet share button up there. Whachoo talkin’ about Willis?

    • It certainly helps to like what you are doing and for some, a little recognition can go a long way; positive recognition that is……..

      Hiring the right person on the front end is huge and having the right culture in place will make for the right mix in maximizing productivity.

  11. Most people couldn’t take the kind of trashing losing sports teams will get from announcers and pundits. If they did, their performance would degrade. I should know — during my teacher training, my supervisor hated me, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to please her — trying to talk to her about it was no good (she was just that kind of person) — so my work suffered. A lot.

    That “bad suit” picture just cracked me up. It’s a still from a movie called Chemical Wedding, which was directed by Bruce Dickinson, the guy who used to sing in Iron Maiden and is now a commercial pilot. Chemical Wedding is about an English scientist who builds a virtual reality machine so advanced it taps into a hidden dimension and summons the spirit of magician Aleister Crowley into our own.

    The scientist is possessed by Crowley’s flamboyant, lecherous spirit and frolics about town in pimp clothes seducing women (the real Crowley was quite the ladies’ man) and biding his time until he can conduct a grand ritual to conceive a moonchild or something. I watched it 6 years ago so I can’t quite recall.

    • Maybe if you make the kind of money they do, you just laugh all the way to the bank. However, I would have to think it would get to you at some point, you are only human, right? A bad supervisor can turn a good job into a bad one, that’s for sure.

      It seems I saw that movie but I didn’t put the two together; I might be thinking of another movie though. That’s funny you knew the guy however……..:).

      Good to see you, hope your day has been well.

  12. All I can say is, Thank God for self-employment! I love it when you surprise us with a post like this. In my opinion, self-deprecating humor is the best kind. Maybe because I have such rich material to draw from.

    You know, I thought hard about your “productive time vs everything else” statement. Because writers are notorious for “wasting” time. We doodle. We look out the window, mouth hanging open, keyboard silent. But sometimes we need that time (where it kooks like we are daydreaming) in order to come up with all those great (or not so great) ideas.z So, yeah, I would have been sent back to the minors years ago.

    An aside: Your “Didn’t he wear those same clothes yesterday?” line reminded me of a group of kids I used to teach in the gifted program. They came to me one day a week, a different set every day, from regular classrooms they were in on the other four days. Once, three kids in one of my classes figured out, by tracking and graphing, that their 6th grade teacher had a certain order, shall I say, to the clothes he wore to school. And I’ll be damned if they weren’t right. They figured out that his closet must have been organized so that he would wear shirt and pants in the same order throughout the year. And they could actually predict correctly what he would wear each day. Pretty cool, huh? So much for a completely useless piece of information. : )

    • That’s hilarious the kids picked up on that. You just think you might be able to fool them, but you really can’t……..:).

      My analogy is outside sales (what I do for a living). If I am outside, with people, then I’m selling. They could be centers of influence, existing customers, prospects, or just random people. I might not be talking insurance policies, but I’m certainly ‘selling’ myself. Therefore, I’m working ALL the time………:). My wife says ‘hogwash,’ but technically it’s true, regardless what it looks like.

      I think given certain tasks, we are all ‘productive’ enough. If we could squeeze another 1-5% out of our day, then it would probably be a good thing. But I would counter there are some days we squeeze it like an orange and do whatever it takes to get things done, right?

      The more you ‘enjoy’ it, the more productive you are likely to be. Unfortunately, there are too many out there who don’t and just have a ‘job’ instead of a career.

      Being self-employed is key because you only have yourself to praise or blame.

      Good to see you Judy, hope your day is going well.

  13. BILL!

    If I walked into an office such as the one you describe, I would quit and start my own business.

    I don’t need to be watched over; that’s always been my value… There are too many other knuckle heads playing politics and mind games that it keeps the owners/ stakeholders/ busy with other people.

    I make things happen and business run better for the people/ partners/ contractors/ I work with. If I did that twiddling my thumbs, nobody would care – they would prefer me to continue twiddling my thumbs and producing profits.

    To be honest, I work my ass off – have found some with more talent; but not many who can out-work or keep up with me : )

    I understand clearly that my job is generating money and profits.

    That’s not established by what I say, that’s established by how much money hit the bank account today.

    If there’s somebody out there who can do a better job, by all means fire me and hire them – it’s the right thing to do!

    I would never want to be a person holding back progress in a business, and therefore never have been.


    • I certainly don’t need to be watched over, and if I was I probably would be working for myself. Being in sales it is very easy to tell if you are getting the job done, right? Just look in your wallet……..

      In my world, the way I work today is different than when I was just getting started. I still work hard, but it looks very different. From the outside looking in, it appears it is easy work and anyone could do it. Well, it certainly isn’t rocket science so I’m sure many could do it, but I have seen many more fail than make it. Most people don’t like the pressure or accountability of a sales position; they would rather just show up for work and ‘service’ what was sold. But by taking the ‘safe’ route, they will never come close to making what the salespeople make.

      Trust me, we have brought in the latest and greatest many a time and thrown all kinds of money at them and the tried and true guys were told to ‘look out.’ All I will say is, ‘I’m still looking.’……………talk is cheap…………

      In our business, the sales positions are the hardest to fill because of the investment required. It might take a year or more to determine if you have a ‘keeper’ and if you don’t you start all over again. In a down economy, we have been very conservative on bringing new people on.

      Sometimes it’s the new and shiny penny that gets the attention, but you better make sure you appreciate the talent you do have and take care of the tried and true too.

      Thanks for your thoughts MARK HARAI.

  14. The only qualifying consideration is that professional athletes (and celebrities and politicians) have chosen to be in the limelight. They have made a conscious decision to be scrutinized in that manner. They are being paid the big bucks to attract attention, viewers, interest…and to that end, if they under-perform, part of the deal is that we all get to point a finger, ridicule and judge. I’m guessing that your compensation package is primarily defined by your ability to bring in business. And you should be measured against those expectations. And I’m sure you are. So I reserve the right to scrutinize Kim Kardashian if she makes bogus marital decisions. So there.

    • Yes, they have chosen that profession and subsequently, will be scrutinized much closer….and even more so now because of essentially 24/7 access w/ social.

      What we consider celebrity a la Kim K or Snooky is ludicrous to me but I don’t begrudge them; if it’s there for the taking then they might as well strike while the iron is hot, huh?

      My ‘compensation’ package is straight commission, no guarantees and no two paychecks ever the same; but I wouldn’t trade it. If it’s meant to be, then yes, it is certainly up to me…….

      Good to see you; hope your summer is going well. It is summer in Canada too, right?

  15. Bill, there was a large ad agency where I worked in the early 90s. In my department, creative, people would show up late, typically around 9:30. The routine for most creatives included one hour of visiting with each other to catch up on the previous evening. Then production crew would call everyone in to a “meeting” with a production company sales rep, who was probably giving kickbacks for every seat they brought to the conference room. This would take most of an hour. Then they would go out for coffee. Then, after a few minutes of reviewing memos, frantic planning for lunch began. Some people used their “hour” of lunch to go to the gym, conveniently located across the street. (If you could get out by noon, when you came back at 1:45, few others would really know how long you had been gone. You didn’t want to come back after 2:00.)

    At two o’clock, the real work would begin. The account supervisor might have scheduled an account meeting. Ideas would be kicked around. The seniors would then direct the juniors to flesh out some of these ideas. But you really wanted to make sure you were out the door by 5:00, so as not to make the rest of the team look bad.

    This is what big brands like Clorox, Pac Bell, Levis and Taco Bell were paying for back in the day. That’s one reason why the face of marketing has so dramatically changed. And why I opted for self employment.

    Thanks for a great thought starter, as usual!

    • That was probably right after the two-martini lunch, but still a lot of ‘non-working’ time involved………….those were the days, huh?…………:).

      Now more so than ever, you better be efficient and your results better be quantifiable. There is always somebody out there ready to step in for you if you don’t seem to be paying attention.

      Good to see you; thanks for the mention in your Coke article. Hope you have been well.

  16. Bill,

    I’m alone much of the day, so hope they wouldn’t catch me picking my nose (I don’t really do that) or using expletives when taking to myself (I do that).

    The announcer forgot to mention all the time you spend on Twitter … 😉

    On board with Adrienne regarding news. I gave up watching the news too. Use to be a political wonk and all that, but you know what? It’s not worth it. The negativity and stress. But my wife just told me Seattle traded Ichiro to the Yankees. WTF! I missed that? Oh, well.

    Productivity? I doodle and daydream and walk around talking to myself all the time. The announcers might think I’m ready for “the bus.”

    Hope things have cooled down, oh yeah, according to Adam Toporek your in a rice cooker.

    • Hey, twitter is productive time, right? Isn’t that networking? BTW, I do pick my nose, but that keeps the traffic down in my office so I can do more important things…… twitter…….

      Very strange watching Ichiro in a Yankees uni, that’s for sure. I’m watching the Rays play B’more right now. Camden is 20 yrs old; I’m sure you remember Memorial Stadium too.

      Adam and I slayed some skeet last Sunday at the gun range. We went early to beat the heat, but we had a good sheen working by the time we left. We need practice….:).

      Good to see you, hope your weekend was a good one.

  17. Funny and witty, clever tongue-in-cheek!

    I try to avoid negativity both in people and things, like Adrienne and Craig I do not watch the news or read a newspaper on a regular basis (I miss the local news, though), this coming from a person who always wanted to be at the top of everything says pretty much, no?

    Being in the limelight is exactly what it says: you are under constant scrutiny and subject to having your performance analysed by sometimes less than experts. As for the office situation: an absolute no-go and in no way motivating to better your performance.

    Another hot day here in Basel, I am out with Chica for an early morning walk. Have a good day, Bill!

    • How did I miss your comment? Oops………….:(

      My week was good and played golf a couple of times; I’m getting the bug again and enjoying playing……even if it is hot as all get out.

      We all have different motivating factors, but being in the same job for so long I think it changes over time. The challenge is keeping it fresh so you will be productive, right?

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

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