Team Malaise

What happens when a team just loses it’s mojo?

Is this simply a “that’s what happens sometimes”, situation or can it be fixed?

Finding the cause, or lighting a spark…is one more important than the other?

Go back. Go deep. Go internal. Ask good questions about why this team plays or works on the things it does. What are the values at the core of the project or program? What’s its collective WHY?

If you can find the seed of its existence and agree that it’s one worth working for, then you can determine the actions that the group must take to move forward, to achieve and take steps in the name of the WHY.

Identify the WHAT, too.  What will you do? What things will you not do? Keep track regularly and enlist a tracking system to hold the whole group to.

These small things are the only things…one piece at a time a team can bring itself back to creating a great future.

Show Up

How can I help?

What do you need?

Are you feeling ok? Anything I can do?

These are such well-meaning questions, but if a person is really struggling with something–a “life problem” or how to field a ground ball–they may not know what they need, and it’s probably not an answer that would be most helpful.

Offering to provide a fix that neither party knows exists is impossible, and “well, let me know…” is really not helpful.

So, just Show Up for your friend, teammate or partner of any sort. Just be there; you don’t even need to be a good listener, specialize in empathy, or even spend much time to be good at Showing Up.

In sports, showing up can look like being first to something, being prepared, being willing to lose, or fall short. It can be cheering, and it can be pushing; high fives can come in all sizes.

Showing up can be a smile or pat on the back, a “I see you working hard”, or a package of cookies, or a note or card. It can be an email or a text message or a stop-by-to-say-hi or shovel the driveway.

Just do something, no matter how minor.

There are no rules of caring for people, and don’t worry if you don’t know what to do, just show up for them.

What We Want

What do we want? What do others want from us? Do you know? Is it important to know?

If we say we absolutely know what we want, that we have our eyes on the prize, that our goals are crystal clear…are we selling ourselves short? Might that prize be “less than” we can achieve if we have a great set of processes and ways of doing?

“This is what I want”, is results-focused thinking without any real definition of “better”, or a goal to reach for and, most importantly, the process that it will entail.

Teams will say “we want to win a championship!”  Great. How? Do you have a plan to go with the want?  A really, really specific plan or set of behaviors that you commit or (or at least know you should commit to) in an effort to reach a goal?

What we want is not as important as what we’ll do and who we’ll be day to day. Help figure this out by asking the key questions like: what do people/teams who get what we want likely do day to day to move toward that want? Do more of that and teach your teams how to know what to do in the short term as you move toward that end game.

Still, no guarantees.

 

Trial and Success

Resilience and failure are hot topics.  We ask how to bounce back, to embrace the opportunity to fail and try, try again, and we praise the growth mindset that pushes us to do hard things.

The world complains that, “Kids aren’t allowed to struggle,” and  we lament the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. For sure, coaches and parents should indeed embrace their kids having chances to fail.

I’m all for it.

However, I’m a fan of success as well.

Reaching a goal or doing something well is an accomplishment that should be celebrated. It’s not important that every milestone have a party upon completion, but getting things done–being successful in achievement–is not the opposite of learning from failure.

Here’s to getting better and moving forward!

It’s A Group Exercise

Working together is fun. Being on the same page with other people, finding a solution that requires others to add energy to the system, to match up the gears with colleagues, is a great way to move things forward.

That’s why so many of us love team sports, and why people pay to do the same workout with others that they could do for free by themselves.

Being around other people gives us energy. Working with others gets us to the intersection of enthusiasm and hard work. This is true on a team, within a coaching staff, position group, office pod or neighborhood.

Without a structured plan, however, working with a group can be annoying and unproductive. In team sports, this is where the “one chief” model becomes important. Someone needs to direct the work, start the music, evaluate the needs of the group.

How do you make working with others one way you get better as a coach?

 

Intra-team competition

Coach, do you value competitive kids? Of course. Do you want your teams to know how to compete? Sure. Will you work hard to cultivate competitiveness in players who have been working on only their own game for too long? Yes.

It’s important to value competitiveness as a team, and not in a negative way between teammates.  Pushing others to “win” in a practice setting, to beat teammates is not good unless it comes from a place of love.

The sentiment of, “i’m here to make you better, teammate,” is a great way to push you team to compete, but think twice before you encourage kids to “win” at the expense of other kids, in practice.

 

Info Overload

We are flooded with information.  There are so many great books, articles, journals, lectures, videos and other material produced by smart, experienced and successful coaches and leaders in all areas that it’s easy to get overloaded by others’ thoughts and tactics.

We need to take action!  Develop your own strategies (feel free to steal them, but make them your own at the same time) and clarify your voice and ideas.  Consider what’s important to you and then get to work executing those plans.  Just like you tell your people: it’s ok to fail.  Get to work determining where you’d like to go and how you think it’s best to get there.  Devise an action plan and GO!

Fluency

We admire the people who have “made it,” been “successful”: make the most money, have the most happiness, win the most games…

We point to those people as role models, teach their tactics, employ their strategies, read their books.  Usually we’re fired up and maybe it even works for a time.  However, we seldom can bring their stuff into our stuff at a level that really makes a difference for us because we have to think about using someone else’s language.  The time it takes to translate makes it stilted and removes the flow and often the efficacy.

Create your own dictionary and teach the language to your people.  Once everyone in your organization speaks the same language without exception and looks at the world through the same lens you’ll be able to take big steps.

Go.

Midseason Form

What’s that?  Is that a good thing–hitting on all cylinders–or is that a stopover to great?  If so, how long will you stay?

Hitting your stride, finding the next gear…if you could quantify (and you should) these things, what would they look like?  How will you know?

Create a measurement systems and practice regular assessment (ask everyone, not just yourself or your leadership) on the way to continuous improvement.

Horizontal Transparency

The state of recruiting in many collegiate sports means that many players have deep relationships with coaches as recruiters by the time the kids arrive on campus.  Soon, the team culture and friendships becomes an important part of their world as well.

Player to player relationships typically are socially based, leaving the physical, skill and even commitment-to-the-program development up to coaches in meetings, one-on-one sessions and off-season work.

What if teams spent time communicating what each member (players and coaches) was working on and how others could be a part of this improvement?  Is there room in your program for less behind-closed-doors communication?  Opening the “this is how i’m going to get better for the team” communication to all may help to both further understanding of what’s important and model transparency and common goals.

It will also help kids to see outside of themselves and recognize that they are responsible to add to the team, and also can take/get a lot from their teammates in ways that they may not have thought about.  Open, honest and direct communication will help move kids and teams forward.

Go.