A Grizzly Coach, Organizational Health, and Marriage?

As a Memphian, I was taken off guard this past weekend by the firing of Grizzlies Head Coach Dave Joerger. But after further investigation, it seems that his termination was set up the day he was hired. Basically, by all known accounts, the relationship between Dave Joerger and the management of the Grizzlies had been deteriorating from the beginning, with Joerger being left out of personnel decisions and making occasional public “shots” at the organizational leadership.

Former Grizzlies Coach Dave Joerger

Former Grizzlies Coach Dave Joerger

So what does this have to do with my profession? Lots. And here’s why.

What happened with Joerger and the Grizzlies is not foreign to organizations, as it happened just three years ago with his predecessor Lionel Hollins. It is also not foreign to families and marriages either. As far as we know, Joerger wanted to be more influential in personnel decisions and felt he was not, but apparently management had a differing expectation and role for him. And this is not unknown or unexpected, except maybe to Joerger, as his predecessor was often angry and disappointed for not being consulted on certain trade decisions. And often in marriage or family relationships, we desire different levels of influence or involvement, but rarely communicate about it until tensions are high and disappointment runs deep, but that is not my main point.

The point is this- relationships, whether marital, familial and yes, organizational go awry due to poor communication, unclear roles and unmet or unrealistic, or even just different expectations lead to relationship deterioration and poor organizational health. And furthermore, relationships continue to go awry when the real problems - poor communication, unclear roles and unmet or unrealistic expectations – are not addressed. In organizations, it simply means firing and hiring a new coach without doing anything to improve communication, roles, or expectations. And in marriage, it is getting a divorce and remarrying without ever seeking to understand why the first marriage failed.

Now, I am not saying a parting of ways should never happen, but I think many divorces, organizationally or martially, could happen far less often if those in leadership, in this case, the Grizzlies front office, or in your case, you or your spouse, are willing to take necessary steps to address the real issue. Here are a few ideas of how to do such.


1. Open Up Communication

Learn to have a daily connect time. For organizations, Patrick Lencioni calls this the daily “water cooler” meeting, wherein you check in with your employees or co-workers to see what’s on their mind and workload for the day. It is also applicable to marriage, having a daily “check-in” with your spouse for fifteen minutes, asking how he or she is and if there is anything you can do to help them out for the day.


2. Clarify roles

Talk clearly about who is in charge or what. For examples, NBA teams have all sorts of organizational structures. Some have owners meddling in everything, others have coaches making personnel choices on their own. I am not sure any one model is the model, but I can guarantee that a lack of mutual agreement about roles from the very beginning will lead to a deteriorating relationship. And same holds true for marriage. Whenever roles are not clear, usually chaos and contempt (the cancer of marriage) abounds. So take some time in your business or marriage to clarify who is responsible for what. Define the playground and stay in it.


3. Clarify expectations

Third, similar to above, is to define expectations. Perhaps there are different expectations about the future vision and where things are going in the company and relationship. For Joerger and the Grizzlies, they apparently had different visions of the future and who was going to play what role for the team in leadership. And for stakeholders in a company, there is plenty of room, perhaps even more than a marriage, for missteps and misunderstandings about expectations of self, others, and the organization. The same is true in marriage- when expectations are not on the table and molded together on the front end, when the storms of life come, or just a sudden change of life such as a death or birth, problems will about and relationships will suffer.


4. Get Help

Fourth and finally, get help. If your organization is suffering, chances are it has something to do with poor communication, unclear roles, unmet, unrealistic, or absent expectations. If you are the leader of the organization, church, or non-profit, you may need some assistance in locating the relationship issues due to your employees fearing blowback for expressing themselves. Additionally, you may need some guidance on how to actually enact change in your organization. And the same is true for marriage. You may have an idea that these relationship issues exist, but not know how to get help.

That’s where I come in. Whether it is your organization, marriage, or family relationship, I can be of help. I am in the relationship business, and though the context can vary, I have the skills, knowledge and ability as a relationship expert to help your organization, marriage, family or even peer relationships improve, show you what you cannot see, and help you ensure that you are making real change, not just replacing one "problem" with a new one. If you are in the Memphis area and looking for a counselor or consultant to get your organization or other relationships operating at full health contact me today to learn more about how I can help you find your way.