Arrow’s Brisbane Team Day 27/11/12
They’ve asked me to talk to you a little bit today about teamwork, and I’ll do that in a moment, but I want to share with you a little story about myself; kind of sums me up a little bit.
When I was coaching the Broncos we were on the Gold Coast and it was late in the season, and we had about three or four weeks before the end of the season. We were pretty tired and we decided to go down there for three or four days of training.
We were coming in from training in the afternoon about six o’clock in the afternoon and I was waiting for the lift coming up from the carpark. And I’m not in a real good mood, which is not usual for me, and the lift door opens and there’s a guy standing in the corner of the lift, there’s nobody else, and as I get in the lift I can tell by his body language that he recognises who I am. So, I pressed floor 20 and the light was on above that so I realised that he’s going all the way with me.
The lift moves off and he said “Are you Wayne Bennett, the Broncos coach?”
I said, “No I’m not”. I said, “I’m his brother”.
He never said another word, I got out at floor 20 and gave myself a little pat on the back as I’m going in to my room. I work extremely hard at not being rude but this day I’d just had enough, I just didn’t want to go through the spiel about the Broncos. So I went to my room and I never gave it another moment’s thought.
Next morning rolls around and I’m going to breakfast. I’m waiting for the lift, the lift doors open, the guy’s standing in exactly the same position. I died a thousand deaths, I didn’t want to get on that lift, I didn’t want to make eye contact with him, but I knew I had to get on.
So I’m looking at my shoes, I’m looking at the floor, I get on, my head’s down, the lift moves off, and he says. “Mate, how’s your brother today”.
I said “He’s not too bad”.
He said “You’re a lot more bloody talkative than he is”.
I’ve been involved in teams most of my life, it’s the thing I enjoy most of all about what I do. So, part of that enjoyment comes from the fact I just enjoy being part of the team.
And my definition of a team is anywhere you’ve got two people together and there’s a common cause or job or whatever.
The terminology I want to put to it is it has got to be done, and you need some teamwork to get that done. So it means giving, it means cooperation, it means communication with each other, and it means an understanding that you can’t always have it your way if you’re going to be part of the team and you want it to be successful.
So, if I work for Arrow Energy like you ... I would try to make myself the best team member I could and the best employee I could. There is no security in anything that we have anymore with our times, but there is security with your ability and there is security if you work in a team that’s better than everybody else’s team.
I’ve been a long-term coach for over 30 years now and I’ve survived in a pretty hostile environment where coaches don’t have a long lifespan because that’s been my driving factor: first of all making myself the best I can be and then secondly making sure I’m a part of that team.
And I haven’t been a head coach, because I don’t see myself as a head coach. I don’t see that as part of what’s important about the team. I just see myself as involved in that team with a job to do, and if I don’t do my job then I fail you.
It’s a pretty simple formula, it’s not something that I argue with myself about. I have to make decisions that I don’t want to make sometimes [and], when I have to do things I don’t want to do some days, the consequences unfortunately impact on all of us because of the position I hold.
When I refuse to address issues, when I refuse to recognise people who aren’t being good members of the team, and so on, then obviously it’s not long before I’m going to have sit down to meet the consequences.
So I’ll repeat that for you, if you’re not cooperating, working as a team, building a team within your workplace, it’s not too long before you’re going to have to sit down to meet the consequences.
This morning I’ll be a little confronting. I haven’t come here to butter you up. I find it very confronting when I have to tell someone they haven’t got a job and I find it extremely confronting when the team’s playing poorly and nowhere near their ability, so I’d rather have that confrontation off the field, away from the heat of the moment, the action, and I’d rather you keep your job because you’re doing it and we’re getting the job done as a team, because I can’t think of anything more confronting in my life than that.
I had a Christian brother once who used to say to me “Wayne, if I do not challenge you then I fail you,” and so I do want to challenge you a little bit this morning about you and your role in the team that you’re involved in Arrow Energy.
Obviously this is a big organisation by all the people here today, but your team is not a big organisation. Your team is a group of men and women put together somewhere in the company, with specific guidelines, outcomes, and requirements and you influence [them].
Now, I’m a part of the NRL. There are 16 teams in the NRL but I’m not concerned about the other 15, I’m concerned about the one I’m in, that’s the one I want to make the best. And so in your company there’s lots of teams within the organisation, I’m not worried about what the rest of the company’s doing, I just want to make my team and the people that are a part of that the best they can possibly be.
And for a lot of us with teams, you know it means change. As I look around at the sea of faces and a lot of you have obviously been in the workforce a long time. Bill Gates said “the world’s going to change with or without you” and it’s a good thing to remember when you’re kind of fighting within your team that there has to be change.
I’m not into change for change sake, I can’t do that, but I couldn’t coach for up to 30 odd years if I hadn’t changed, if I hadn’t changed my attitude on a whole lot of things.
What I’ve never changed in teams is my values, and what I stand for, they’re not negotiable, and I could coach another 40 years, which I won’t, and they still wouldn’t be negotiable.
But everything else that we do can be negotiable and we’re always finding better ways to communicate and we’re always finding better ways to do things.
There’s a guy called Frank Arok who coached Australian soccer. He was 64 in his last coaching job and a journalist said to him “Frank, aren’t you too old to coach?”
As I run through a couple of his lines here you’ll want to question yourself about this because as part of this little talk of mine, you need a bit of honesty with yourself.
I’m not talking to the person beside you, I’m talking to you, and I want you to you know critique yourself as I’m going through some of these points here today about where you stand on some of this stuff.
So Frank said,“You’re never too old if you can still dream. You’re never too old if you’re flexible enough to change. You’re never too old if you don’t know it all”.
I’ve coached 20 year olds that can’t dream, they know it all, and they have no flexibility about change. And I’ve had 70 and 80 year old men and women who can’t wait until tomorrow, they want to do another development, they want to build another building, whatever it is they do. Age is not the issue here, the issue is you, and about your ability to change, and about your ability to become a better team member.
Everybody says to me “Wayne, how do I improve the team?” Well, the stark reality and the honesty of it all is the best way to improve the team – and I know a lot of you don’t want to hear this – but the best way to improve the team is to improve yourself.
And that’s what we don’t want to hear, because you’re not the problem in the team, you’re not the issue, it’s everybody around you. They don’t speak to you properly, they don’t communicate with you well, they don’t care about you; all the excuses you run through your head when you want to put blame somewhere else and you don’t want to take responsibility and accountability for yourself and your actions within your team. And that’s where the honesty part’s got to come in, with you.
See, I don’t want to come to work on the day and I don’t want to be on the team with people that don’t share the values that I share in terms of work ethic, getting the job done, being the best you can be. I’m wasting my time, I don’t want to be in that team.
And the other thing I go to work for is I enjoy what I do, and I want to enjoy what I do. Sure there’s difficult days, sure there are tough decisions to make, and I don’t always enjoy them, but overall I go and do what I do because I enjoy it and because I want to be able to look back out of the present and see what we’re building and where we’re going. But I can’t do that if you’re not on the same page with me.
So, at the Knights I’ve let 15 players go since I’ve been there because they don’t share the same vision that I have, they don’t want to make the commitment that I require them to make, and I’ve bought 17 in their place. But the men that I’ve worked with before and the kids that I know if we can influence and we can change and we can get their attitudes absolutely spot on, then we’ll be successful with those people.
What’s Arrow Energy? Where are they going with you and your team? What are they looking at? What’s your management looking at? Why isn’t the job being done the way it should be done? And are you enjoying coming to work? The one thing that you have to understand, if you want to be part of a team, is that you’ve got to be prepared to give yourself to the team. And I’d say the great majority of you in the room here today probably can’t do that.
I always remind myself of one of the greatest team players I’ve ever coached, Darryn Lockyer. He was at the absolute height of his game, when we needed a five-eighth. He was the Australian fullback, he was the Australian captain, he played there since he was 18 for the Broncos, and Queensland, and Australia, and if you name the top 5 fullbacks of all time he’d be in that category. And he was in the middle of his career.
And we couldn’t find a five-eighth which was a very important position in our game. So I asked him if he’d play in that position. His simple reply to me was “if that’s what you want me to do that coach, that’s no problem.”
It was a huge learning curve for him because he had to learn to defend in the front line. He spent a lot of time in behind the line and he had to obviously improve in that area enormously, and also he had to become the number one ball player. Was there a battle that took place there? There was.
There was a lot of criticism of it, a lot of criticism of him, no guarantees he’d play for Australia again, no guarantees he’d captain for Queensland again. And we took a fair bit of blame for 12 or 18 months, when everybody was second guessing us, everybody was second guessing him, second guessing my decision. But through commitment, the great dedication that he’s got, the wonderful athlete that he is, he became maybe the greatest player of all time. He put it all on the line, because that’s what the team needed him to do.
We’re not going to ask you to make that kind of commitment, but there will be times when you’re going to have to give a lot more of yourself to the team than you’re going to be prepared to give.
I’ll tell you what doesn’t work in teams, so that when I leave you today I’ve got no doubt in my mind you understand what does work and what doesn’t work.
First of all, in the poor teams: people don’t feel valued in them; people don’t feel like anybody cares about them. As you sit there and you reflect on some of these words, you might ask yourself are you one of those people I’m talking about? Or are you one of the people that kind of don’t care about anybody else on our team.
Which category are you in?
They make everything hard. So you ask them a question; they make it difficult for you. You ask them for cooperation, they make it difficult for you. And I suppose in a big operation like yours with a lot of integration happening there’s people there that don’t want to give up their territory. Well, I’ve just been through that at the Knights, and I’ve just moved three of the staff on as well, because they wanted their territory, and they didn’t want to become part of the bigger team.
We can all have success. When I was a young police officer I used to have a clique in my office that said “Isn’t it amazing how much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit?”
I’ve been a part of some wonderful teams with some great success, and no one really cared who got the credit. Because at the end of the day we all get the credit, we’re all winners, because we share in something very, very special. But the great majority of us – we never have those magical moments because we can’t give ourselves to the team.
They’re not accountable, the poor teams; it’s always somebody else’s fault and they’ve got a ready-made excuse. If there’s one thing that I work hard most of all with the teams that I’m in, it is about honesty, and no excuses.
If you’ve followed my career you’d know you’ve hardly ever seen me criticise referees. Because they are the obvious reason for failure, because you can use them up every day of the week as to why you didn’t win a game of football.
Unfortunately when I make an excuse for you as a team, then I take away the responsibility for your performance. I’ve said it’s his fault over there, they didn’t produce the product on time, it wasn’t delivered when it should have been, they didn’t give us we wanted, whatever it may be. I give you an out. So you don’t have to do your best, because I’ve already given you an excuse.
Poor teams have no pride in their uniform, in their company logo, and in the people that they work with. There is little if no communication at all. You can’t have successful teams without communication and it doesn’t have to always be about the talking.
The good people are looking to leave. You really know when you’re going bad when the good people on your staff are coming in and saying “I just got myself another job.” You know what the good people do, they won’t tell you why they’re leaving, they’ll just say “Oh no, it’s just time for me to move on,” they’ll come up with some shitty excuse, because they’re sick of all they’ve been through over the last 6 to 12 months and they know nothing will change regardless of all the promises you may make.
And in the end, you have the inmates running the asylum. Egos are out of control, and it’s always about them.
And you know what else ... that generally the winning teams do? They come together, and they sort out their problems. They make a decision, they get a focus on that decision, they move forward and they get a result.
The losing teams, they go out the back, in the coffee room, down where you have a smoke, a small corner somewhere, and they bitch and whinge about you, the management, the company and anybody else that can come into their range. That’s what the losers do.
My question to you is which team have you been in. Are you in the back of the coffee room somewhere having a bitch about everybody on the staff?
I’ll tell you what you can’t do in teams. What you can’t do is you can’t put yourself in that situation. If you’re unhappy about a situation then go and address it. You have that right.
And if you can’t address it because you don’t have the moral courage or you think it’s just going to be an absolute waste of time, then you teach yourself to live with it. But the one choice you don’t have is to go and sit and whinge and bitch about it. That’s the one choice you don’t have.
And you have another choice, you can go and get another job somewhere else. No one’s stopping you, no one’s going to prevent you, no one can do that. But to put other people down, to belittle the team, is an absolute no-go zone. There are lots of things in our life sometimes that we have to live with if we can’t find the moral courage to address the situation.
What do the winning teams do? They care about each other. People are important to them, they are valued. I’ve always used the line “is anybody here in a relationship with someone who doesn’t care about you? Well if you are it’s not going to last much longer.” And why would we care about each other through all this?
Now, I don’t have to be your friend, that’s a fallacy in teams, [that] we’ve all got to be friends. We don’t have to be friends.
There are lots of different personalities in this room today. And you may not want to be my friend, that’s not the issue.
The issue is what we do when we come together as a team and we work in that environment. And so, when I spend so much time with you, why wouldn’t you be important to me? Even though we’re not going to see each other at four o’clock when you go your way and I go my way. Why wouldn’t we look out for each other? Why wouldn’t we help each other to get better? Why wouldn’t we be compatible so we can have a conversation? Why wouldn’t we teach ourselves some form of compromise so that we don’t always have to be right, it doesn’t always have to be my way or the highway?
What stops us from doing that?
I’ll tell you what stops you from doing that: your shitty personalities. We’ve all got one of them. Ego. False pride. Selfishness. About you. Again it’s an endless list.
They override that responsibility, the good teams, and they get it done. They don’t rely on something else to get it done. There’s a great spirit of cooperation because they all feel valued, they all realise they have an important role to play regardless of what your role is, from your receptionist right up to the top of the chain. They have, and they are allowed to use, initiative.
That’s a really big issue in teams, that there’s a confidence within your team that you can use your initiative. They’re accountable, and they belong to something. There’s great pride in their jersey, great pride in their team logo. They’ve created a part of that company because of the reputation they have. There’s great trust that you will do what you say. I’ll repeat that for you, there’s great trust that you will do what you say. They’re constant, predictable in their actions.
So my question to you is – and obviously I’m not going to get the answer, but you know the answer,
Which team are you a part of? And I’ve just given some brief outlines about the teams that are out there.
When you watch sport, and you see teams that have lots of talent, and nothing’s kinda happening. Well, I’ll tell you what’s happening: they’re on the losing teams. And all the things that I’ve just talked about are part of their set. And when you see the winning teams, and you see them win year after year on a constant basis and they’re always up around the top levels of the tree, the one thing you always see in their teams that’s constant is that they’ve got a winning attitude. And they have a culture that creates that, so what’s your culture?
What do you create at Arrow Energy?
I’ve coached someone like Glenn Lazarus, for example. Three different clubs he went to. And the three clubs he went to, they all won premierships. Only two people in the history of rugby league have ever done that in their careers.
What does that say, [that] he was lucky on three occasions? That’s an excuse. He played the toughest position the game has to offer, he played front row in all of his career, the only place he ever played, but because of what he brought and who he was, he brought a winning attitude.
And that rubbed off on all of those people around him. And how do I know that? Because I was a part of those teams that he was involved in, and I know what he brought.
Did he bring a great personality? No he didn’t. Was he a cranky bastard? Yes he was. Did he have a lot of mates on the team? No he didn’t. But when he went out to play and he went out to train, which is where it matters most of all, he was committed. And he lifted all those other people around him and helped them get better.
Who have you lifted around you lately? Who have you helped to be better?
What have you spent your time doing? Whinging about that guy that’s not doing to job you want him to do? Have you told him he’s not doing the job he’s required to do? Have you given him some direction? And if you’ve done all those things, well then, make the next decision, start moving him out of the team, or her out of the team.
I was 14 years of age and I was working for Gambaros. They used to own a shop at New Farm and I thought I was doing a good job, and I’m not one that ever lied to myself even at that age. And Michael Gambaro came over to me one day and he said “if you don’t pick your act up we’re going to have to fire you.” And I was absolutely amazed, because I honestly thought I was doing a pretty fair job.
So my next question was “well, what I am not doing well”, and he told me 4 or 5 things that I wasn’t doing well, which I didn’t realise. I thought I was doing them pretty well. And you know I’ve carried that lesson with me all my life in teams, to make sure I tell people, I give them constant feedback and communication about their performances.
I love the reviews in companies, they have them every year. In my business I can’t have a review every year, I’ve got to have one every day. I’ve got to tell you how you’re going, what you’re doing, what we can do better, if you’re doing it well. And certainly no longer than a week, because we’ve got to go out every week and show you what we’ve got and what we haven’t got.
Being parts of teams is not rocket science. Truman was President of America at the end of World War II, and he said that “God must have loved the common man and woman, because he made so many of us”. And if you think about it, that’s a pretty good statement.
So our teams are made up of a lot of common people: you, me, and all of us in this room here today. And what do we want? Job satisfaction, being part of a good team, so I repeat again: it’s not rocket science. The difficult part is you, and getting your head around what type of team you want to be in.
There’s a great line that says “if you don’t make the change, then who will”.
So, if you go back to work tomorrow, are you going to try to communicate a little more, say hello to everyone who comes into your office, without being false, without being who you are? If you don’t do it, when is it going to change?
And if you don’t do it now, when will you do it? How much longer are you going to lie to yourself and put it off?
I’ll leave you on this note. The great teams have a common commitment among them. And the commitment separates the doers from the dreamers. And so if you’re sitting there this morning and you keep making promises to yourself, I’m going to tell you something: you’re lying to yourself.
Because that’s what the dreamers do, they keep making promises to themselves about some part of them that they’re going to change or some part of their workplace that’s going to change or whatever it is maybe that they need to do better.
But the winners in the room here today will be the ones sitting here that, at some stage of the day, that make a commitment to something. And they realise there’s no fallback position, and that’s the difference. They’re not going to be lying to themselves, making themselves another promise that they’ve been making for a decade, five years, it doesn’t matter.
And so, when the time comes and you leave the company, you want to be walking through that door knowing that you were a great team player. Knowing that you paid the price that was required of you to be a part of that team. And that leaves you with a pretty special feeling.
I certainly left the Dragons and I left the Broncos, and that was the one feeling that was above all for me personally, that I’d been a part of some pretty special teams, with some pretty special men.
And that’s all we have in this life, is the memories.
What will your memories be?