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The Downbeat #827 - The Theories of Management Edition


Background: As some of you may know, or have surmised, I am a business major. Specifically, I am a senior in a management program. Because of this, I often think about management theories and how they would apply to sports teams, and more often wonder how many coaches have specific training in some of these theories, and how many operate under them innately.

So, for this DB, I'm going to apply some of the theories of human motivation and motivational strategies to our youngsters to see what makes them go, and how to help them improve.

Gordon Hayward: Of All the young players on this Jazz squad Hayward seems to be the most motivated by his need for achievement. This is not to be confused with a need for recognition of this achievement, we'll talk about that later, but an internal need to succeed. This a cause for his competitive nature and is a factor in how he was able to will an overachieving Butler team to so much success in the NCAA Tournaments. I believe that the Jazz scouts and KOC saw this in Hayward and it helped solidify his position on their big board.

Deron Williams has this streak as we heard so often, "I just want to win". It is the driving force behind these types of players' work ethic, their desire to "Get better every day". Thus, as a manager I would guide Hayward to leadership positions. On the court this would mean making him a team Captain and running plays through him to nurture his leadership skills by making good decisions that lead to success- either by winning or at least through success on a play-by-play basis.

Derrick Favors: Expectancy Theory states that people's motivation leads to effort, which leads to performance, and ends with a specific out come and a valence, or the value a person places on the outcome. For Favors, I believe a great deal of his performance hinges on a few outcomes. Specifically, we had previously heard about him being underestimated as a draftee, not given a chance in NJ, then once given a chance we see his desire now focused on being rewarded for his performance by being given more playing time. This is his outcome and his continued raising of this point is a great indicator of his valence of this outcome. He needs the recognition he associated with more playing time to reinforce his effort put into improving as a player. If this need is not met his development could be stifled, if not completely abated. Once a person's valence can be properly quantified it is imperative that the manager take the necessary actions to reinforce the effort to continue the cycle to build the player.

The ultimate goal is to move Favors to the next step, which would be to develop his need for power and need for achievement. The first, meaning his need to take a bigger role with his teammates as a leader, and the second to develop a strong desire for his team to achieve (and himself by proxy).

Alec Burks: Burks outspoken nature and high level of self-confidence leads me to believe that he is most motivated by the need for recognition. Burks frequently spoke, during his rookie year and this offseason, of the difficulty in adjusting his behavior to not being "the man" anymore. For someone with such ego, it is often difficult to overcome the frustration that comes with no longer being recognized as the most important team member. For Burks, his success in adjusting to the new team culture and willingness to work to improve as a player must be rewarded with recognition. This does not mean that the Jazz need to give him a made up award in a half-time ceremony, but it does mean they need to let him be "the man" occasionally. He should be looked to during situations that he would have the opportunity to gain the recognition of his team, but also the media, if he succeeds. His failure in these situations should not be a concern, as it is unlikely that the scrutiny will stunt his desire to succeed and gain the recognition; it will likely only be a greater source of motivation.

Finally, for Burks, as well as Favors, the Equity Theory of motivation is strongly applicable. This theory states that once the need that drives the motivation process is identified and the performance has followed, the person's feelings on the fairness of the outcome will strongly influence continued growth. This means that these two players will need to feel that the rewards they receive are equitable to what their teammates are getting. For Favors, this is certainly measured in minutes, but will also be heavily impacted by the weight of those minutes (where he's at when the final buzzer sounds). For Burks, it will be his accolades from his coaches and from the fans (only one of which the Jazz have control over).

Enes Kanter: I would identify young Kanter's needs as being driven by his need for affiliation. This means that he is strongly motivated by how he feels he fits in with his teammates. He started playing the game at a rather advanced age (relatively speaking), but because of his physical prowess has seen himself playing with older, more seasoned players for most of his career. Thus, Kanter does not quite need to be the highest scorer or play the most minutes, but he does need to know that he contributed, and he needs to hear it from his teammates and coaches foremost. Having a mentor such as Al Jefferson and being heavily involved in the rookie "hazing" process has helped solidify his dedication to his teammates and will help drive his desire to improve for them. He may not have fully developed the need for achievement, but his desire to help his teammates reach their goals is just as strong.

My guess is that any personnel changes will have the greatest impact on Kanter, and the Jazz management must be sensitive to this, as must his teammates. Kanter would greatly benefit from having a mentor that is not subject to the "business" side of the game, so the possibility of this mentor leaving would not loom.

Jeremy Evans: Evans is a little more difficult to assess, because he is so quiet and has such an amiable personality. I would surmise that Evans is most likely motivated by a need for achievement and recognition, but that his ultimate desired outcome is to be a solid rotation player in the NBA and the valence for this will come internally and from his family. His ability to rise from a quiet, albeit supremely gifted player, at a small university, to a second round draft pick in the NBA, to NBA Slam Dunk Champion, and finally signing a new contract, will hold greater importance to him personally, once he solidifies his spot on the team.

Like so many young players Evans introversion should not be confused with a "low motor", as we have all seen the fire he possesses when he succeeds. What Evans needs is chance at a position and minutes that are not subject to revocation. He needs the chance to succeed without the thought that failure will lead to his chance being rescinded looming over his head. Much like his game, he needs to be free to succeed.