In part one we found out the building blocks of trust. Today we tackle the difficult people who want to break it all down again.
Most club cricketers play for the fun and camaraderie they game brings, at least in part.
Some people, whether they mean it or not, can behave in ways that make this difficult. If you are looking at it from a 'team building' point of view, they are often the source of your trouble.
The problem is, their behaviour does not warrant formal action. It's irritating and clique forming but seemingly impossible to change. After all how do you change someone's personality?
The simple answer is to find ways to change disruptive people's behaviour, not who they are. The latter is impossible anyway.
According to Ros Jay, most cases will need to be dealt with on a one-to-one basis. This means it's important for the captain (or coach) to be sure the problem is down to an individual and to find the time to speak informally but privately.
The purpose of the meeting is to point out disruptive behaviour without exaggeration, judgement or who they are as a person. Use real examples and show how the team is being impaired by something they are doing.
Most importantly, be ready with a solution that involves changing certain behaviours at certain times. Here are some of the common problems you may encounter and solutions you can offer them:
- Lack of communication. Get this person more involved by asking specific and open questions (ones where you can't answer yes or no). They will rarely be comfortable offering their opinion, so be prepared to drag it out of them by force of questioning.
- Doesn't listen. Always clarify what you have asked of them by asking them to clarify. A good fielder can avoid drifting by making a mark for example. Ask open questions to make sure they are still on track.
- Daydreams. Daydreaming leads to mistakes, especially in the field. Let daydreamers decide what they want to do as much as possible. Avoid making them do things they don't want to as they will switch off.
- Loner. Batsmen who are happy playing on their own game are often accused of playing for their average and not being team players. Sometimes they can seem remote and above others. Don't put them under pressure as they can withdraw more. Instead let them do what they do best and help the team better understand the importance of their skills.
- Sulking. Everyone sulks sometimes, it's a way of making our feelings known. If it happens often and over minor issues it can become a problem. If that happens, listen to concerns of the sulker and respond in a friendly, reasonable way. If the sulker doesn't want to talk leave it until they do then try again.
- Over sensitive. Some people simply take every criticism as a personal slur. Recognise this and make sure the team go easy on them. If you do have to criticise, make it private and be as specific as possible. Back this up with praising good performance to the rest of the team.
- Moaning. Be careful that moaning is not a genuine issue before dealing with it. If you have a serial moaner never do something that affects them without speaking to them first. Make a note of when they moan and always ask them for their opinion before the act. It also helps to avoid putting them under pressure.
- Pessimism. Taking the view that failure is inevitable from the outset can bring a whole team down. If someone is doing this, get them to be as specific as possible. Why will things not work out? How can the problem be resolved? What's the worst that could happen? Often this line of questioning will get their views into perspective.
- Racism/Snobbery. People who dislike playing with other races or social backgrounds will mostly be impossible to convince otherwise. The best you can do is show them they are wrong through good performances from those they dislike. You must also be careful not to reinforce their prejudice.
- Control freak. Players who want to open the batting and bowling, keep wicket and make the teas all at once fear being let down by others. Often they are the captain of the side so they can take control of the game when they want. Show them how others can be trusted by putting in good performances and how important it is to learn from mistakes.
- Prima donna. For these people, creating a scene gets them what they want. All you have to do is show them that is doesn't work in your cricket team. Simple do not respond to this behaviour and carry on as if nothing has happened.
- Bullying. Bullies pick on the weakest member of the team. Stand up for this person until they learn to stand up for themselves. Don't do it in an aggressive way yourself. Stay calm and focus on the task at hand, not the bullying behaviour.
- Blaming. This person is always making excuses, often at the expense of other team members. Make sure you are setting very specific targets and roles for this person in the team. If the excuses continue simply reiterate the job you need them to do.
All teams will experience some of these to some level. It's the role of the captain and coach to judge what effect these negatives are having on team spirit. You must act quickly and sensitively to the situation.
This will stop cliques forming and help bring the side together.
What are your experiences at dealing with difficult characters, and how did you solve it?
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Want to be a better captain? Learn from the best with the interactive online course Cricket Captaincy by Mike Brearley.