Adam Commens: preparing for the Olympics using the People Change Scan
“After the Belgian men’s hockey team won a silver medal in Rio and the successful Hockey World League in December 2017, we now aim for gold, and the women’s team aims to emulate that success”, says Adam Commens, previous Australian hockey player that won the Champions Trophy, third at the Olympic Games in Sydney, and former national coach of the Belgian men’s hockey team.
“Now I am back in Belgium as High-Performance Director of the Belgian Hockey Federation.
We have been using the People Change Scan* for the last twelve months with the coaches, staff, and players that I work with, both men and women.
Understanding different mindsets
To realize the highest level, most coaches have similar technical and tactical knowledge. When one has an understanding of the different mindsets of the people they work with, it assists in connecting to these people and assisting them to achieve their goals. Ultimately as coaches it is our role to help people achieve their full potential and this will only happen if both the coach and the athlete understand each other.
We encourage personal development for all individuals at the Belgian Hockey Federation; we value it very highly and the Scan gives us great insight into how we are as individuals. It brings us greater self-awareness and allows each of us to look at areas that we can develop personally. How each person is, together with the experience they have, develops their own set of values that they prefer to use when they communicate with people around them. The Hockey Federation recognizes that everybody within our organization has a different upbringing and different values. We use the scan to better understand the value systems of the people we work with, both players and coaches and ourselves as well.
Orange and green communication
A great example in sports is the prevalence of the ‘orange’ values system. Many sports people value success and results over all else.
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” – this mentality is something we see with many of our developing coaches, however this result driven style of leadership only works with some athletes. In developing the ‘green’ mindset in our coaches, we have seen a far greater understanding of the importance of connecting and listening to the players we work with and as a result an improved ability of the group to work together towards a common objective.
Connections are more important than facts and figures
In my point of view, I used to coach based on values and concrete processes backed up by scientific measures and evidence, that support the direction that I believed in above all other things. Since working with the Scan, however, I have learned that the connections with people that I work with and lead are more important than simply facts and figures.
Within my family, we all seem to have similar mindsets. So there I do not experience too many changes. The effect on my personal life is that now I understand that not everybody sees the world in the way I do, and others have different mindsets and see different things. I am learning to bridge that by listening, rather than trying to convince others that my way is the way they should look at it.
Care about people away from work
At work, I try to understand an individual and show that I care about them, not only in our work environment but also away from work. I learned that this motivates them and improves their results in the workplace. This goes for numerous men and women that I worked with. More in general: if I am observing coaches that are strong in that area that I haven’t focused on in the past, I have been able to see firsthand that this generally improves the performance of the players.
For the majority of what we do, we immediately look at ourselves rather than first looking at the others. When we understand how we all operate differently under pressure**, we can reach out. This insight allows us to develop ourselves. In the Belgian Hockey Federation, we try to simulate those moments, before we reach the real pressure moment in the game. Our coaches connect with the players in preparation for the Olympic Games, knowing how our athletes will respond under pressure, what mindset and language we need to use in those moments to get our message through.
Lost in translation
The coach has a lot of very short moments of contact before the game, at quarter time, halftime and the three quarter time, after the game and when the players are rotating. In these moments of contact it is important for the coach to get the message across to the players, so he needs to use direct and correct language for the players’ mindset to reach his target. If you are speaking in ‘green’, while the player has a ‘red’ mindset, it all will be lost in translation.
This knowledge and understanding can be the difference between a very successful coach and a mediocre one.
Better understanding in everyday life
A common misconception around developing oneself is, people try to perform better in their occupation, rather than first understanding who they are and what they value. The Scan has brought us the journey of self-awareness. It has assisted in not only becoming better in our job but more than that: better understanding of ourselves and the people around us in everyday life.
More open mindset
In the past, I valued hard work, success and the general improvement of hockey coaching and playing above everything else. Now I have a much higher awareness of the bias I previously had. I gained a far more open mindset throughout how I see the world and I learned to appreciate that people around me not always value what I value and that’s okay. I am accepting that instead of trying to influence it. It makes me better at my job, it makes our teams better, but moreover, it makes me a better person.”
*People Change sponsors the use of the People Change Scan for the Belgian Hockey Federation.
**The People Change Scan measures both the natural color and the color one has under pressure.