I arrived on the field carrying my heavy burden of necessities. For me, this included not only chairs and a water bottle, but also my DSLR camera and 300mm lens for sports photography. Believe me when I tell you that the camera and lens are, in fact, fairly heavy. The weather is excellent, not too much wind. Lighting is good, not too much sun, which can be problematic with shadows. My subjects are young soccer players. Some are bursting with energy, others may be nervous, and some are not always focused.
As a sports photographer, I am looking for those moments of communication. I am watching the field. Sometimes, I follow the soccer ball waiting for the goal to occur. There are times when I scan the field watching our players. I am looking for expressions and communication with the team. I can see and hear the boys at times offering encouragement, or signaling to pass the ball. Through the telephoto lens of my camera, I can see what I can’t see on the sidelines.
When I am not snapping pictures, I can watch the whole game, but may miss some important expressions. It is vital to balance my photography with time to enjoy the game and to watch from a broader perspective. I want to see the players on a larger scale communicating to each other and sometimes to the opposing team. I am waiting for that moment when someone scores a goal.
I admit that I am a screamer on the side lines, shouting encouragements to the team, as are many of the parents. We are all invested in our child’s team. When they make a mistake, we are shouting that they should shake it off. We see the expressions when an opportunity is missed. We see the true joy when a goal is earned. At this age, the excitement of a goal is more than visible. It is felt like energy across the field. It doesn’t matter to the parents on the sidelines who it was that scored, nor does it matter to the kids on the field. It only matters that as a team, they accomplished their goal.
I often compare team communication in business or the classroom to what occurs on a soccer field and whether I am watching through the microscope of my lens or watching the field of play. There is a balance that must be struck between the two, along with an investment from team members to succeed. There are times that as a project leader, I need to assess the broader picture, watching the delivery of ideas from a group of problem solvers. However, I am usually scanning the reactions of my team. I may need to focus from a broader perspective to a more singular one. When any team members are struggling to understand, they may not stop and ask. I may notice the confusion displayed on their faces or in the context of their written communication. If I were to view the meeting by watching the group as a whole, I would miss this fact. It is important to find a balance — to view the team dynamics and communication through expression from a broader and more refined view.
As adults, we are no longer shouting encouragements, but we can offer encouraging words. We can take the time to explain more difficult concepts to those in doubt. Rejection should not be an experience felt by a team member. The environment of the team should be one where ideas are easily spoken without worry. We can remind team members to shake off the mistakes, and that those mistakes are opportunities for learning and possibly a better idea. While the goal in business may be more complex than that on a child’s soccer field, we would be wise to remember that as a team, we should all communicate with respect and encouragement. Let’s remember the excitement of youth over accomplishing a goal and make it contagious for the organization.
Jeanne Damon is pursuing her master’s degree in Human Resources and Employment Relations at Penn State World Campus. She currently holds the SPHR, PHR and SHRM-SCP certifications along with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Bloomsburg University and is a Dean’s List recipient.