What makes a great team?
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In business as in sport, a team’s successes and losses are often defined by their ability to bond and work together to achieve a common goal. When we think about sporting team, we think of phrases such as ‘there is no I in team’, so why don’t we use this same mindset when we think about our teams in business?
Like many great sporting teams most teams in business have a clearly defined structure with each member of the team knowing exactly what it is they are responsible for, how to perform at their optimal level, how to seek guidance or receive feedback form their manager (the coach) and how their area of specialty or responsibility contributes to the overall goal of the team.
So, if we were to look at the fundamentals of a great team and effective team culture is sport and translate this into the business world what would it look like?
There are four key ingredients that managers/coaches must include to develop a high performing team culture, these include:
SETTING CLEAR GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS
Like in sport, in business we must ensure that each member of our team knows the plan, knows what the expectation is on them as an individual and as a team every morning that they sit at their des, but for this to be successful we must also create consistency and continuous communication around goals and expectations. A coach does not run a drill once and expect the team to get it right and remember it first time. So why would we do this in business?
USE YOUR SUPPORTING CAST
Business is no different to sport in that we identify leadership teams and individuals’ strengths that benefit the overall outcome of the team. So as leader of great sporting teams do, businesses should also look to delegate and empower individuals to take responsibility in areas of interest or strength. This helps foster a more aligned team culture where members of the team feel empowered and apart of the decision-making process.
PRAISE YOUR CULTURE
Whatever goals and expectations you as a business decide on this will in turn shape your culture. Think of the values that lead to culture is sporting clubs, these are often painted onto training room walls, or referred too on a daily basis- why can’t businesses be the same? But just as importantly when placing such importance on your cultural goals and expectations you must also acknowledge and praise when these are met. The sporting analogy of the assist to score the goal, not the actual goal scored itself as the part of the team culture that is praised could go a long way in business.
SHOW OFF YOUR CULTURE
Do not just say it, do it! Businesses should not be afraid to show not only do they understand their culture but that as a collective team they also believe in this culture. Sporting teams do this all the time through advertising, slogans on tops etc., and whilst it might be a bit much to ditch suits and heels for polos with slogans, business should think about way they are selling their connection to their culture. This helps all team members feel more aligned to the overall culture of a business.
Whilst I am under no illusion that team members in offices are going to be running around anytime soon high fiving or fist bumping after every sale, successful customer interaction or achievement, I do think that businesses can learn a lot from how to shape, contribute and own its culture from sport.
Many of the most successful sporting teams of late will attribute their success to their team culture. And as much as it pains me to say it the Richmond Football Club in the AFL is a great example of a club that has owned its culture, praised its culture, used it entire supporting cast and then proudly shown their culture to the rest of the code.
So, what strategies did you learn coaching your children under 10’s cricket team that you could employ in your business or team?