By Anna Mitchell
Few athletes can say they reached the top on their own. Even “individual” sports usually require a team to get the job done. After all, it takes an army to win a war. Problems with your team can add a lot of stress and distractions, making it difficult to focus on your performance.
Leading a team of any kind is no small feat. You have a group of individuals with their own unique combination of experiences, values, beliefs, personalities and attitudes, and you have to somehow get them to work together toward a common goal.
· Each member should be clearly aware of his/her responsibilities AND the responsibilities of the other team members.
· As the team leader, you should learn what each member has to offer the team. Learn about their unique contributions and use these to strengthen the team while showing the members that you respect their individuality.
· Develop pride in the sub-teams within the larger teams. For example, help the lopers work together rather than competing against each other.
· Involve team members in decision-making to help them feel included and to develop a feeling of ownership of the team by the members.
· Work with the whole team to set common ‘team’ goals and celebrate the successes when they area attained.
· Allow team members to have disagreements but teach them how to resolve conflicts effectively.
· Prevent the formation of cliques within the team by being fair and equal in task delegation and provision of opportunities.
· Use routines in practice designed to teach members how dependent they are on each other.
· Highlight the positive aspects of performance even when the team is on a losing streak. It’s tough to hold a team together when you’re not achieving your team goals but focus on the small achievements and the positive content of your team process. Don’t be afraid to reassess your goals when needed. Involve your team in the problem solving process to keep them actively included in the greater cause.
As a rule, members of highly cohesive teams report higher levels of satisfaction. People who are happy and satisfied in their jobs tend to stick around longer. Studies show that people often rate job satisfaction over money and benefits in importance for long term employment. This is important for us in the horse industry who are trying to attract and retain quality employees with little financial incentive, long hours and few benefits.
How have problems with your team effected your performance and how did you overcome those problems?