Episode 25 – How to build a winning team

I’ve been fortunate to have a father who saw the importance of team sports in my child and lifelong development. Thanks Dad.

 

My team history

Sports and competing in teams is one of the most important skills to learn.

I’ve had exposure to team sports for 22 years now and that to me is a career long experience in many skills. In that time, I’ve been in 22 championship winning teams from 27 championship grand final appearances(19 as a player and 3 as a coach so far). I know what it takes to win and I know what it takes to come back from losing.

While I’ve had a great run in winning teams and learnt a lot, I’ve also had a great run in losses as well. It’s terrible to lose. I hate the feeling but that’s life. All you can do is get back up and start to rebuild again.

 

A note on winning and losing

Winning is a learnable skill (and so is losing).

As individuals and teams, we need to be able to manage both situations (winning and losing) with maturity and objectivity while embracing the moment that comes with it. Winning is the best! It’s an amazing feeling, it builds phenomenal confidence, it reinforces virtues such as commitment and focus, and it sweeps the downside of sacrifice under the carpet.

Winning also brings people together in a moment forever and those stories, feelings and character attributes will be never be taken away.  Somewhere on the tightrope between winning and losing is where our true character is carved and legends are created (and not just in sports teams).

 

What is a team?

A team is a group of individuals that come together to work towards a common goal.

 

Why teams are important?

There’s a lot of things to achieve in life, some of these things we’ll never achieve if we don’t have the right people around us.

 

Notes on being a Team player

I can tell you this now, in all the 19 champion teams that I was apart of, I was able to win because of my teammates.

I love each one of my mates and we’ll always have our triumphant moments on the podium. Without all of us stepping up and doing the job, we never would of won and I’d never be able to write an article like this.  I can honestly say I wasn’t the best player in most of those teams – there were some legends and some extraordinary individuals in my time – but I can tell you I was and still am one of the best team players (winning 19 championships isn’t entirely a fluke). I think being a team player is the most important skill in teamwork.

Team player’s work to enhance the “glue” that binds a team together. They see the detail at every stage, what role every individual plays and they also see the big picture – the team strengths, the individual weaknesses and the actions required to make it all work.  In this article, I wanted to share with you my top six principles on how to build a winning team.

 

1. Get your goals in order

Whatever it is, get your vision right and your goals in place. When you do this well enough, you will then be able to identify people to fit your team.  Here’s some good questions that ask:

  • What is your team’s vision?
  • What’s your team’s dream?
  • What you want to achieve?
  • What is your goal?
  • Who are the best people to achieve this vision?

 

2. Get your communications in place

Communication lines set the foundation for the entire team – it is the lifeblood of the team. If the communication links are strong and everyone is on the same page, then the team will always be working towards your team goal effectively and efficiently. Communication also helps everyone to understand where they are at a particular point in real time and how well (or not so well) they are progressing.

Here’s some ways to start good communication in your team:

  • Learn your teammates names – big one, make sure you respect everyone in your team so you can start to build a solid relationship towards a common goal
  • Learn to actively listen – show understanding and interest in your teammates lives and hobbies
  • Be open to your team mates communication style and personality traits – everyone is individual and they express themselves in their own way. Be open and willing to understand your teammates.

 

Want to know more about building teams? Read on!

 

 

3. Unity

If you want to be able to achieve great things in a team, you need unity. The simplest way to get unity is, you need spend some time together and share in experiences – commonality.

 

Share in experiences

Unity can’t be rushed or forced, it comes over time. So, “date” your teammates! Some good examples include:

  • Shopping
  • Ice skating
  • Team building day
  • Movies
  • Dinner

 

Benefits of Unity (team bonding)

  • More trust and confident in each other
  • Better understanding of how you can work together
  • How you compliment each other’s strengths
  • Know each other’s nuances, personality traits (and even weaknesses)

 

4. Start with some live tests

Test the team with trials. This will allow the coach and leaders to test their theories about the team. You’ll be able to get some solid answers to these questions:

  • Who goes where?
  • What are the team strengths?
  • How do they perform under pressure?
  • Are the team members living up to the hype and expectation?
  • Are team members who were underrated standing up and being noticed?
  • What combinations of team members are naturally forming?

 

If you’re winning and there are signs of success, you’re on track. Keep building the team the way you are and watch how the confidence grows as well. If it’s not working yet, that’s fine because the trials allow opportunities to:

  • Identify strategies, roles and communication lines that need adjustment
  • Modify combinations of players
  • Implement new strategies for the team.

 

5. Growing the culture

With leadership comes an opportunity to grow culture. If you’re lucky enough to grow a team from scratch you can build a dream team and a dream culture. If you’ve inherited a team or taking over a team you’ll have to put in some heavy efforts to build relationships. And I mean heavy time and effort. You can’t come into a team and try to boss your way in – there’s a culture you’re disrupting and that culture is stronger than you think. If you want to know more about growing a team from scratch versus inheriting a team, let me know.

 

What is culture?

Culture is the unwritten rules and laws that govern the social norms and interactions of the team. Culture is also about factors such as office politics, work ethic and understanding the tribe you’re in.  Culture is something you get a feel for pretty quickly and can be net positive, net negative or oscillate between the two depending on who’s around.

 

Building blocks to team culture

Three building blocks to team culture I believe are important are:

  • Settings expectations early
  • Picking the dream team
  • Grooming and developing your team over time

 

6. Keeping score

There’s a classic story on productivity from Henry Ford. The story basically goes along these lines:

One evening Henry decided to write up the number 20 on the wall for his evening staff to see. His staff in their natural curiosity asked for the meaning of the number 20. Henry proceeded to tell the evening staff that the number represented the total number of cars the morning staff had built. The evening staff then decided to outperform the morning staff by building more than 20 cars. Once their shift was done they erased the 20 and put up 25. The morning staff responded in kind and pushed to build 26. And so the legend was created.

This story illustrates the point to keep score. Keep the team informed of where they are in terms of their progression and how they are going versus the plan (or in this case, a competitor).

 

This is the time to let them know if they’re doing well. It’s also the time to let them know if they’re not doing well. Questions such as:

  • How are we performing in real-time in relation to the overall strategy?
  • How are we performing versus the competition?
  • What are we executing well?
  • What are we not executing well and how can we counter this poor execution?
  • How do we know we are performing well or poorly?
  • What metrics are we using and what do they tell us?

 

This tip will help to keep the team in check and on their toes. A live update will let them know where they stand. It’ll give the leader the opportunity to give them a “pat on back” if they’re winning or, “kick up the back side” if we’re behind. Keeping score will help you to build a winning team.

 

Build your team!

Thanks for reading my article on how to build a winning team. This will give you some tips on how to shape a team and lead them to your desired goal. To summarize the tips again, here are the top tips to keep in mind:

1. Get your goals in order

2. Get your communications in place

3. Unity

4. Start with some live tests

5. Growing the culture

6. Keeping score

 

Feel free to watch the video

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Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness.

Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness. International Athlete, Elite Performance Manager for the Philippine Volcanoes rugby teams, qualified Dietitian / Nutritionist and qualified educator. Chris Everingham combines more than 10 years of experience and education together to deliver the best strategies to grow your mindset, rewire your habits and transform your life.

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