6 Ways To Build A Better Team

Every company wants increasing employee engagement. Engaged employees are good at communicating and putting forth extra effort to fulfill expectations. I’ve recently seen articles about student athletes becoming great employees. Therefore, having an athletic mentality can help grow employee engagement. You may not want flag football in your office hallway or field hockey in the foyer. Still, it’s worth translating athlete mentality to worker mentality in your workplace.

Athlete / Worker Mentality 1: Communication

Success in any sport depends on communication. Same is true of business. Communication between the coach and the player is critical in the game’s final minutes when victory is on the line. To execute the play perfectly, team members must talk, listen to and understand one another. The same applies at the workplace: communication matters, in every direction.

Coach To Worker Mentality: Practice the skill of collaborative conversation. Then provide opportunities for your people to learn the skill as well.

Athlete Mentality - Jim LarrisonAthlete / Worker Mentality 2: Achievement

Rarely does the team that does not want to win, win. Desire to achieve is the fire in the athlete’s belly. Running an extra mile at practice, taking another 50 free throws, swinging at 25 more baseballs feed that fire. Ignite and fuel that same fire in employees and they will engage in striving to accomplish. An individual who wants quality in her work brings quality to her work. An employee who seeks improved performance calls out actions and resources to better skills.

Coach to Worker Mentality: Support and celebrate accomplishment. Make clear to the entire team what individuals/teams are working to accomplish. Publicize progress as it happens. Hype the publicity as achievement gets closer.

Athlete / Worker Mentality 3: Loyalty

A familiar sports phrase is “no I in ‘team'”. It’s putting ego aside for team success. Notable are athletes who utilize their skills and talents for the team. They put stardom lower on the priority list than victory. Loyalty to the company shows itself in full-fledged engagement employees. This leads to success that is greater than the sum of each individual’s efforts.

Coach to Worker Mentality: Encourage frequent, pragmatic discussion of loyalty. Examples: WIIFM related to work assignments, personal relevance of company values, individuals’ comfort with corporate culture. Verbalizing causes of and reasons for loyalty keeps loyalty in front of mind.

Athlete / Worker Mentality 4: Resilience

The team loses. Players learn from mistakes. Successful team moves on, preparing to win the next contest. Power to bounce back is essential to success. Resilience in the face of business setbacks is key to successful employee engagement, too. Consider how many events can knock someone off track, if not for a loop. Imagine the shortstop who’s bumbled a hot grounder or the halfback who’s fumbled a handoff. Each has to shake it off before next pitch or next play. Same with workers: shake it off, bounce back, get ready for the next play.

Coach to Worker Mentality: Learning from mistakes builds resilience. Make discussion of error and/or failure a regular behavior. Ensure this discussion emphasizes what can be learned, rather than finger pointing and blame shoveling.

Athlete / Worker Mentality 5: Confidence

Confidence boosts resilience. An athlete’s can-do belief spurs the “try again; do it better; on to victory” commitment. Confidence in ability and dedication stimulates confidence in the team. And confidence in the team increases self-confidence. A pitcher believes she will throw a strike. She also believes that if it’s hit, one of her teammates will make the out. That seamless confidence between individual and team produces wins. At work, too.

Coach to Worker Mentality: Demonstrate your trust and confidence in workers. Recognize their success and link to future possibilities. Encourage creative ideas and procedures.

Athlete / Worker Mentality 6: Awareness

Every player on a football team, a softball team, a basketball team – on any team – has specific expectations to fulfill. They are aware of these expectations. The more explicit their awareness, the better. Victory tells them they’ve performed as expected. Loss tells them the opposite. Workers need the same clear awareness of what managers, supervisors expect of them. The more clearly they know these expectations, the more likely they are to engage in fulfilling them.

Coach to Worker Mentality: When giving an assignment to new hire or veteran, be explicit in what’s expected. Ask for validation that expectations are heard and understood. As assignment progresses, verify expectations with the worker, especially if the expectations are tweaked.

Those coaching suggestions are normal behaviors a good manager possesses. It pays to keep them in mind. It pays more to put them in action. It pays to have your worker’s mentality similar to the athlete’s mentality.

Play on!

(About the Author:  As an Employee Engagement and Performance Improvement expert, Tim Wright, has worked with businesses and national associations of all sizes. His company, Wright Results, offers proven strategies and techniques to help businesses increase employee engagement, improve personnel performance and build a strong business culture by focusing on performance management from the C.O.R.E. For more information, visit or connect with Tim here:

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