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  • Writer's pictureMark Dickinson

10 Pointers on How to build a Winning Team

Creating a solid team is hard work; it takes time, effort and vast amounts of experience. Mark Dickinson, founder of DONE! Hospitality Training Solutions, examines the real meaning of team building.

You only have to watch a professional sports match to observe the pillars of teamwork in motion. The players have one clear goal in mind: to win. They communicate, collaborate and instinctively cooperate to claim victory. Off the field, they strategize, exercise and practice every possible scenario. They study the competition, research the weaknesses of their opponents, review previous performances, analyze statistics and plan. On game day, they execute. Great teams are able to effortlessly transition and understand one another because they have developed the right skills and are committed to a shared objective.

These are not people who need motivation; they sign up for the team because they love what that team does. Having their names on the team’s history books, being a hero to the fans, and playing outstandingly are things they seek.

The business world in general does a poor job of imitating this ethos, throwing around words like “teamwork” and “communication” without really meaning what they say.

Today, team building is dead. If your team needs to go on a team-building day, there is something wrong with the principles of your organization. Slogans such as “There’s no I in team” or “TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More” are fine, but they cannot replace the burning desire someone feels to contribute to an outstanding goal. Getting people to participate in fake exercises where they have to help each other, do things like the “Trust Fall” — where you catch your fellow team member as they blindly fall backwards onto the waiting team members — are all good ways of helping people learn how to cooperate. However, these things will not build the team. A team must have one clear goal. The goal must make winning clear and doable.

Celebrating victory makes teams buzz. A win for the business is a win for the team. Why would you call yourself a team if you are not going out to win something? A team only has a point if it is going to win. This is where many businesses fail. They get the team part, but they don’t have a powerful enough business objective that their team is working toward. As a result, they don’t celebrate enough. It’s like an unbalanced scale, with team talk on one side and no team-related outcomes on the other.

Annual parties are ridiculous. Watch a top team in any league around the world. They play a massive number of games throughout the season. You don’t see them walking off after winning a game with somber faces saying: “We will not celebrate now; we will wait for the end of the year.” No way! They are on fire. They celebrate, while they console the opposition, but they are going to the locker room full of hope and inspiration; that’s winning. Celebration is the next natural step. The best of the best create a winning culture, celebrating as they go along.

Players grow, athletes grow. They sign up as rookies, they have talent, they show promise, and so they are brought into the team. They are given every available opportunity to rise up, and they are encouraged to perform to the best of their abilities. All eyes are on the “noobs,” and the question on everyone’s mind is: “Is this the next champion?” Real teams cultivate a culture that is so strong that it surpasses all else. Ultimately, when what you are doing is worth doing, everyone will want to do it. For those at the top, this checklist will certainly help to build a successful team. (Note, you need to score 10 out of 10.)

1. Does your organization have a goal so clear that everyone knows what it means to win?

2. Is the desire to “be the best” fiercely instilled into every process and procedure of your organization?

3. Are the rules of your game simple, clear, equitable and unbreakable?

4. Is your team “on fire” to win the game?

5. Do you celebrate each achievement of your team?

6. Do you publicly recognize the outstanding contributions of individuals?

7. Do you invest everything you can into getting better at what you do?

8. Are your new hires set up for championship performances?

9. Does your organization have raving fans who love what you do and what your team produces?

10. Did you answer the above questions honestly? What changes do you need to make today to realign?

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