Imagine it’s a new staff every day, because it is

Imagine that a longtime leader-manager told you one of his secrets to success was to work with a new staff every day.

You’d wonder what he was talking about. You’d think he was crazy. A new staff every day?

Impossible.

We recently came across a statement from Duke University’s h

ead basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, on the blog of the business author Tom Peters about how Coach K thinks about leading his student athletes. Krzyzewski has successfully built championship college basketball teams for 30 years.

Krzyzewski was quoted in a newspaper interview as saying, “Things don’t stay the same. You have to understand that not only your business situation changes, but the people you’re working with aren’t the same day to day. Someone is sick. Someone is having a wedding. You must gauge the mood, the thinking level of the team that day.”

Peters’ reaction to Coach K’s statement was as follows: “That is, your six-person project team or seven-person training department or 18-person housekeeping unit is a new puzzle every day. It’s far beyond ‘treat everybody differently according to their skills,’ etc. It’s that in a 220-day work year, we the leader-manager face 220 different teams. Every day is a new crossword puzzle. If such constant puzzle solving isn’t your cup of tea, then leave the leading-managing to someone else.”

Coach K’s quote made us wonder whether leaders really understand what motivates their employees from day to day. Do leaders really understand the changes going on with their staff when they walk into the office each day?

Like Peters, we agree that his comment states the obvious. Of course, outside of the job influences and job-related issues that any employee deals with day to day affects their motivation. Employees can feel challenged one day and not the next day. They can feel valued for the work they do this week and feel not a part of the team the next week.

Coach K’s insight is that the impact of these internal and external influences on the members of your team isn’t just on the margins. As Peters puts it, you have a different crossword puzzle to solve each day. You need to view your team through this lens of constant change.

Think for a moment about the implications of Krzyzewski’s idea that your business has a different “staff” each day.

Most entrepreneurs don’t come to work each day and manage their business thinking this way. Why would they? If the organizational chart is stable, the team is fairly stable. They already have enough problems on their plate to solve each day — especially with the economy.

Building a company culture where staff grow and prosper is essential to a successful bottom line. But small business owners typically think the significant impact of changes with their employees occurs over a much, much longer time horizon.

If Coach K is right, small business owners not only need to raise the game of their problem-solving skills, they also need to face each day with a different level of energy and creativity leading a “new team” each day. They need to give much more attention to the needs of that team.

We believe Coach K’s perspective on building a team will be helpful to your small business. He has had a long record of success, and we see real value in his idea and think it will make you an even more effective leader and manager.

Pat Sisneros is the vice president of College Services at Everett Community College. Juergen Kneifel is an associate faculty member in the EvCC Entrepreneurship program. Send your comments to entrepreneurship@everettcc.edu.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Dan Bates / The Herald
When Seattle Genetics founder, Clay Siegall lost his father while in college, he switched from studying for an MD to studying for a PhD., and a goal to treat cancer patients.  His efforts are paying off in lives.
Bothell biotech CEO resigns after domestic-violence allegation

Clay Siegall co-founded Seagen, which develops therapies for cancer patients. He’s accused of attacking his wife.

FILE - A sign at a Starbucks location in Havertown, Pa., is seen April 26, 2022. Starbucks says it will pay travel expenses for U.S. employees to access abortion or gender-confirmation procedures if those services aren't available within 100 miles of a worker’s home. The Seattle coffee chain says, Monday, May 16, 2022, the benefit will also be available to dependents of employees enrolled in its health care coverage. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)
Starbucks will cover travel for workers seeking abortions

Amazon and Tesla also will provide the benefit. Walmart and Facebook have stayed silent.

A barista pours steamed milk into a red paper cup while making an espresso drink at a Starbucks coffee shop in the Pike Place Market, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Seattle. It's as red as Santa's suit, a poinsettia blossom or a loud Christmas sweater. Yet Starbucks' minimalist new holiday coffee cup has set off complaints that the chain is making war on Christmas. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Interfaith group asks Starbucks to drop vegan milk surcharge

They say the practice amounts to a tax on people who have embraced plant-based lifestyles.

FILE - In this Monday, March 1, 2021 file photo, The first Alaska Airlines passenger flight on a Boeing 737-9 Max airplane takes off on a flight to San Diego from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. A Boeing pilot involved in testing the 737 Max jetliner was indicted Thursday, Oct. 14,2021 by a federal grand jury on charges of deceiving safety regulators who were evaluating the plane, which was later involved in two deadly crashes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Alaska Airlines to keep canceling flights at high level for weeks

Flight cancellations since April will continue. The chaos has been damaging for Seattle’s hometown airline.

FILE - An airplane flies past the Boeing logo on the company's headquarters in Chicago, on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2001. Boeing Co., a leading defense contractor and one of the world's two dominant manufacturers of airline planes, is expected to move its headquarters from Chicago to the Washington, D.C., area, according to two people familiar with the matter. The decision could be announced as soon as later Thursday, May 5, 2022, according to one of the people. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Boeing expected to move headquarters from Chicago to DC area

The move would put Boeing executives close to their key customer, the Pentagon, and the FAA.

This 3D rendering shows Sila's 6000-foot facility in Moses Lake, to be used to manufacture lithium-ion anode battery materials. (Business Wire)
New factory in Moses Lake will bring hundreds of new jobs

The plant will manufacture lithium-ion anode battery materials for cars and cellphones.

Dr. David Kirtley at the new Helion headquarters, Antares, in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022  (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Helion Energy: New Everett company has the sun in its eyes

The firm is the winner of a new award by Economic Alliance Snohomish County, called Opportunity Lives Here.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring is this year's winner of the Henry M. Jackson Award given by Economic Alliance Snohomish County. Photographed in Marysville, Washington on April 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Jon Nehring: Longtime Marysville mayor who’s nurtured growth

He’s helped steer the city’s transformation and is winner of the Jackson Award by Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

Monti Ackerman, recipient of the John Fluke Award, is pictured Thursday, April 28, 2022, outside his office in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Monti Ackerman: A passionate volunteer and calculator whiz

The Fortive executive is the winner of this year’s Fluke Award by Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

Rep. Mike Sells, D-38, is the recipient of this year's Henry M. Jackson award. The award recognizes a visionary leader who through partnership, tenacity and a strong commitment to community has created lasting opportunities to improve quality of life and positively impact the regional economy. Photographed in Everett, Washington on April 29, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Rep. Mike Sells: He fought for WSU Everett and worker rights

The retiring legislator is the recipient of the Floyd Award from Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

People sit outside the recently opened Amazon Go facility Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in Mill Creek, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Cashier-less Amazon Go buzzing in Mill Creek grand opening

Locals came to check out the high-tech store, with $3 avocado toast and cameras watching customers’ every move.

Joel Bervell (Courtesy photo)
TikTok med student @joelbervell named top Emerging Leader

Joel Bervell, who highlights disparities in medicine, took top honors at an event for 12 rising stars in Snohomish County.