Have you got your eye on the ball… or are you too busy watching the scoreboard?

by Matt Grimshaw
May 26, 2017

I’ve recently completed an enquiry project with Carpetright. One piece of feedback from one of their top performing Regional Managers, Danny Shortall, has really stuck with me: “To be successful, you’ve got to have your eye on the ball, not on the scoreboard”.

I thought this little piece of wisdom brilliantly captured how pioneer managers interact with their results.

Most businesses expect their managers to be ‘results orientated’. They put significant pressure/incentives on managers to hit their targets.

We come across a lot of managers who struggle to translate this operating context into effective personal behaviours and attitudes. All too often we come across managers who are obsessed with their results. They’re frenetic and compulsive – they look at their latest numbers all of the time. And yet, perhaps because they are so consumed by the present, they tend to have little sense of long term trends or projections. These managers tend to react to every new set of figures – they give themselves credit for positive results, but explain away negative results as being caused by factors beyond their control. As a result their behaviour is skittish, and when you talk to them they tend to have a very inaccurate understanding of the inputs that drive positive results.

In contrast, it’s not that pioneer managers don’t care about their results… they do. Most of them (but not all) are insanely competitive – they want to be their company’s top performer. But critically, they also want to stay the top performer. That means they have to sustain their performance and they have to be able to beat their own numbers. To do this, they have to know what caused the result. So on a day-to-day basis, pioneer managers are focused on the inputs – they have their eye on the ball not the scoreboard. They know what the score is, but they also understand that its a measure of the game, not the game itself.

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