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What great coaches do -- and leaders should, too

(MoneyWatch) You and your team pitched a project to a potential client. She shot it down. Everyone's feeling a little sore about it. So the last thing you want to do is relive that meeting play by play, right?

That's human nature. But if you have a tendency to tell everyone to just move on, not to worry and that you'll do better next time, you could be missing a huge opportunity.

In the sports world, coaches often make their teams watch footage of past games. They study what plays worked -- and which could work better with some tweaking. They figure out vulnerabilities. This post-game analysis is key to improving. It's expected as part of practice.

I've written before of how few people practice in work contexts, which is a shame, because practice is one of the things the most successful people do at work, daily if they can. If one person is actively trying to get better at her job, and another is not, it's not hard to guess who will eventually do the job better.

One of the reasons people don't like to practice is that we don't like to dwell on our mistakes. That's understandable, and there are whole schools of thought claiming that managers should focus on people's strengths as a way to coax out better performance.

But even as you focus on people's strengths -- something post-game analysis can also reveal -- you can point out skills and habits that could become strengths with work. A brilliant but brusque person can learn to ask one or two personal questions -- that's it, nothing crazy -- in order to appear human before meeting with other humans, and thus knock the ball out of the park more often. Someone prone to getting flustered can learn to pause and employ strategies for gaining time to think (like asking for clarification or someone else's opinion) before giving an answer.

You can also do post-game analysis after things that go right. Understanding why a meeting arrived at a great answer in a reasonable amount of time may help you stage more such meetings -- and that would be a beautiful thing.

Do you do post-game analysis in your line of work?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Charles & Hudson