Primoz Roglič leaves Jumbo: the distance between reward and satisfaction | Cycling | Sports


Giro de Italia 2023
Primoz Roglic, on the attack during the Giro.Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse FerrariFabio (LAPRESSE)

One of the greatest challenges of an effective team is managing the tension derived from the convergence/divergence of the objectives of its different members with those of the team. It is common to address this issue by subordinating individual objectives to those of the team (consistent with centralized leadership structures), but when the context changes and uncertainty increases, more interactive approaches are required that assume that the objectives of the team and those of its members can change. also. This involves renegotiating what we want/can achieve together. Jumbo has given ample evidence of applying this approach.

A simple way to articulate this renegotiation is derived from an important theory of motivation: the expectancy theory, which indicates that team members are motivated to achieve objectives if they believe that there is a strong positive relationship between: 1) the effort to be made and the performance required; 2) between said performance and a reward offered by the team, and 3) between the reward and the (sufficient) satisfaction of an important need by the person making the effort. By applying this theory to discuss goals and motivation in the team, we could focus on clarifying the strength of the three relationships. But it doesn’t usually happen like that.

We assume that our team members know the level of effort to achieve a given performance, and we tend to focus on specifying what the team offers to support that level of effort (a special bonus, for example). However, we often forget the third relationship (the most strategic): the value given to said reward. In other words, we forget what the team members really want? Or how does what we offer them connect with their needs, values ​​or ultimate sources of motivation?

It is not a random oversight, given that it is the most complex part of the discussion about motivation within the team. Frequently, levels of confidence do not facilitate the appropriate expression of this aspect, or there is a fear of ending up with such discrepancies as to ruin the discussion.

With these considerations, the answer to what Roglič, Vingegaard and Kuss really wanted in La Vuelta was simple: win. Since everyone couldn’t do it, the question was whether or not winning satisfied or frustrated their ultimate goals. There was a clear beneficiary, Kuss, and also, unfortunately, a clear loser: Roglič. From there and considering the whirlwind of emotions that surround the perceptions of disconnection between efforts, rewards and final goals, we speculated with two possible decisions by Roglič: either the well-being and achievement of objectives posed by the Jumbo ecosystem took precedence, or the desire to be able to achieve a Tour with another team. The demands of elite sport make us aware of the relevance of aiming for higher goals with limited resources. Therefore, it is normal that Roglič seeks to give meaning to his final years of career in that way, with Bora converging on that great goal.

And at this point, what do we do when one or more of our team members tell us that they want to leave? The answer is very simple: if after discussing different scenarios we have not been able to reconnect individual and collective goal structures, then team science tells us that we must support their departure in the most sincere way possible. Although it may be frustrating and counterintuitive, it is the most honest way to help our broker get what he or she wants, if we cannot offer it to him or her.

In teams as in life, how we begin our relationships is as important as how we end them. Therefore, showing our support at a farewell moment, as Jumbo skipper Richard Plugge did, underlines a genuine concern for the people who make up our team. These actions are key both to attract new talent and to leave the door open for a return (in any role) of that appreciated talent that is now leaving.

Ramón Rico, professor of Business Organization. University Carlos III of Madrid

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