Going For the Gold: Team Building Lessons From the Winter Olympics

With the Winter Olympics coming to a close, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the importance of teamwork – and how working together as a team can help your business go for the gold!

Sure, you’re work isn’t being completed on a ski slope or an ice rink, but it is being completed on a platform for the world of your employees and customers to see. Creating a great team isn’t easy!

Successful teams excel in three core areas:

  1. Building trust;
  2. Valuing diversity;
  3. Motivating team members.

Good teams don’t just happen. Creating and maintaining high performance teams takes work and effort.

Building a winning, and high-performing, team

So how do you go for the gold and build a high performing team?

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  • Orientation: Before proceeding with the work of the team, it’s necessary to define purpose and team identity. If these things go unresolved then the team can often begin with disorientation, fear, and uncertainty.
  • Trust building: members want to know who they will work with, and what their expectations, agendas and competencies are, as well as communication styles, personalities, and work preferences. Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. If trust is not established then honesty, accountability, and respect don’t exist.
  • Goal clarification: As work begins to get done – team members need to know – what are we doing? This starts with clarity about team goals and assumptions, what are the tasks and priorities to be accomplished, and includes the development of a team charter or vision. If goal clarification doesn’t occur, shared vision isn’t formed and skepticism and apathy can occur
  • Commitment: As the work of the team progresses – team members often wonder – how will we do it? At some point, discussions need to end, and decisions must be made on how the work is going to be achieved. How will risks and issues be managed? What resources are required for success, and how will resources, time and staff be managed? Without commitment, assigned roles and responsibilities, a clear decision-making process, and proper resource allocation, high performance can be difficult to achieve.
  • Implementation: Eventually teams will turn a corner as they begin to sequence work and complete tasks and deliverables. Teams will have determined – who does what, when and where? This is a time of scheduling and a time of action. Clear processes have been defined, alignment is in place, and disciplined task execution is underway. The team has now begun to move from creating to sustaining.

To build great teams in today’s diverse world requires thinking outside the box – and building the right platform for your teams to succeed.

This isn’t the end of the road for you, though. Winning the gold requires ongoing effort, continuing to do things to ensure you’re nurturing your team and building toward success – whether on the ice or in the office!

This was originally published on the Tolero Think Tank blog.

Scott Span, MSOD, CSM, is CEO at Tolero Solutions. His focus is people. He is a leadership coach and people strategist, which includes a focus on communications and change management. He supports leaders, teams, and individuals to survive and thrive through personal and professional change and transition. He supports organizations to engage and retain talent and wow customers, achieving success through people, creating places where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business.