The basketball industry is a very competitive sports business. Athletes are becoming stronger, faster and more athletic than we have ever witnessed. As a general manager, the main responsibility is to manage the financial operations of incoming revenue and expenses (Browne, 2019). To succeed as a successful basketball franchise, a general manager must recruit high-level talent and persuade athletes to join their respective team to compete for a National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship. An NBA general manager, equipped with strong management, decision making, and leadership skills, will display a positive influence on athlete recruitment for improvement in team performance.
Every General Manager possesses a sense of power in the workplace. To make a positive impact on team performance, it is important that NBA General Managers build strong relationships with their athletes and staff (Juravich, Salaga & Babiak, 2017). It is good to interact with the players, showing support to help achieve their goals. Many NBA general managers were former players or coaches. This would benefit an organization by having previous relationships already built with the organization they were with prior too (Harlow, 2019). An NBA general manager would benefit by having these three characteristics, technical experience (professional playing experience), a strong education and the ability to make key decisions for the future of the franchise (Juravich et al. 2017). Young educated general managers who have recent playing experience are willing to adopt new strategies that can be used to impact team performance. In addition to education, younger managers are expected to be more prepared and successful than those who do not have a strong background in the field of management (Juravich et al. 2017). According to (Harlow, 2019), having playing experience will help improve the ability to handle
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criticism when decisions are being made. Having strong relationships with players and employees throughout the organization as well as being equipped with the necessary characteristics would help recruit and keep players with the organization.
To become a very effective and efficient general manager for an NBA franchise, an individual must possess the essential management principles and managerial skills, so they can monitor their teams yearly progress. These principles include planning, staffing, organizing, directing and controlling/evaluating employees and athletes (Kerwin, Ming & Burton, 2019). Each principle results in producing goods and services in the most effective and efficient manner, although two principles standout for a basketball general manager. According to (Browne, 2019) planning takes up the most of an NBA general managers time. Developing a strategy that may be implemented in their play style as they strive to achieve their organizations goals. NBA general managers will surround themselves with people who are able to assist them in making crucial decisions for the franchise and finding information on athletes for recruiting purposes (Browne, 2019). Top level management such as general managers, will benefit by having solid conceptual and human relations skills. Conceptual skills relate to having the ability to see over the organization and effectively use analytical, creative and initiative skills (Kerwin, et al. 2019). Human relations skills possess the ability to communicate and listen to employees in the workplace with regards to any comments or obligations on how the team or individual athletes are performing (Kerwin et al. 2019). With strong execution of the planning and staffing principles, along with worthy conceptual and human relations skills, team performance will positively influence success on the court.
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The primary skill that an NBA general manager must possess to be successful, are exceptional and timely decision-making skills. Throughout every sports organization, there are many problems on or off the court that may arise over the season. It is important that NBA general managers understand how relevant each position can affect how a team performs. For example, having a confident ball handler who can handle pressure and make plays for the team down the stretch is critical to team success, therefore point guards are more likely to be offered higher contracts than other players (Lutz, 2012). When acquiring new players, NBA general managers use a technique called the cluster analysis. The cluster analysis is used to evaluate individual player performance and help determine which players may be best suited for their team (Lutz, 2012). A cluster analysis involves placing multiple NBA players into a group based on certain on-court statistics. This analysis breaks down the importance of having a versatile combo guard to an elite big man and how each player will positively affect winning percentage. As stated by Lutz (2012) durable shooters are shown to make an impact on the offensive end with the ability to create their own shot, as well as defensively, by increasing the number of team steals. This analysis is a great way to compare players of the same size and skill and determine which players should be recruited to make an impact on team performance.
In the recruiting process, NBA General Managers must account not just for the present but for the future of the franchise. Everyone always anticipates highly skilled players to continue to get better each year, but eventually, age will factor in on player performance (Bern, Leeds M, Leeds A, and Mondello). Another factor to be anticipated on includes players who are injury prone or may be dealing with pain that they have to play through (Bern, et al. 2009). A players health status can affect team performance especially if they play an important role, therefore
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minutes should be monitored to reduce the risk of serious injury. Managers who plan and organize their list of recruits will make the decision-making process easier. In addition to recruiting players, Juravich et al. (2017) argues how a general managers tenure with a franchise, will only have an impact on a teams performance for so long until a turning point is reached, eventually resulting in a performance decline. As stated by Lutz (2012) a cluster analysis regarding perimeter scorers and aggressive bigs can result in a negative impact depending on their playing style. Overall, top-level management should take everything into consideration when making decisions to improve their team.
Throughout the beginning of a season, teams may have high hopes to have a successful year with the roster they have, especially when players are being praised for their level of talent. In some circumstances, things do not go as planned and team performance on the court may be very poor. This can bring about one of the biggest dilemmas for general managers in sports, which is a midseason coaching change. If NBA general managers consider a coaching change during the season, adjustments should be made earlier in the year, giving the new coach and players additional time to bond and build their chemistry (Martinez & Caudill, 2013). According to (Martinez & Caudill, 2013) it is shown that if top-level management is willing to let go of their current head coach, they should pursue hiring a new coach who has experience as an NBA player. Approximately 61% of midseason coaching changes have led to a positive influence on team performance (Martinez & Caudill, 2013). A coach with good players should be able to win games in the NBA (Bern, et al. 2009). If a problem arises where players are not performing, and have no impact on the coaching style, then possible trades should be considered before the midseason trade deadline to resolve the issue. Concisely, a midseason coaching change can be a
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big risk for any franchise. However, this change has shown to slightly benefit team performance if considered by an organization.
Making a positive influence on team performance can be a challenge for top-level management. NBA general managers should understand how big their leadership style and veteran players leadership style will factor in on team success. To become an NBA champion, teams should look to influence individual or group behaviour and set a direction to encourage everyone to work towards achieving their goals as a basketball player, coach or general manager. According to Kerwin et al. (2019) management and leadership both correlate to being significant guidance as a successful general manager. Management deals with coping through complexity within the organization. For example, organizing and staffing, managers must create a plan for the team and hire qualifying employees that will be able to convey their ideas into a constructing system (Kerwin et al. 2019). In addition to management, leadership involves coping with change within the organization. For example, aligning employees or players, top-level management is responsible for communicating any new concepts to the employees and players to help establish a direction the organization envisions (Kerwin et al. 2019). Leadership and Management are two respected aspects to have as a general manager and will make a promising change in team performance.
As an NBA general manager, learning many skills and principles will contribute to the amount of success as a leader. A manager who has goals and establishes procedures to achieve their goals, will increase the possibility of accomplishing their goals. Ultimately, top-level management must motivate their players to succeed. Players should be able to see the big picture of being called an NBA champion and recognize the hard work, dedication, everyday grind that
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contributes to success. Like Tim Notke once said, hard work beats talent when talent doesnt work hard.