Superior Teams Practice

In some of my recent training on Teamwork, a new concept occurred to me that needed to be included.  “Excellent Teams Practice”  Well there is no surprise in that.  Champion football and baseball teams practice.  Top performing basketball teams practice.  All sports teams practice.  The champions do it better.

But let’s look outside of sports.  All the U.S. Military branches practice: The Army; the Navy; the Marines; and the Air Force – they all practice.  And then there are elite divisions within these branches such as the Navy Seals, who practice certain thing even more.  They get really good at it.  They get to know their team members very well too.  They want to know who they are working with when it is performance time.  They have to know who they can trust.  It is the same with SWAT teams.  When you see them in action on television, they are well organized, move with purpose and cover each other.

So I am teaching teamwork and it occurred to me, that companies are asking teams to become excellent performance teams with classroom knowledge and classroom practice alone.  This is not near enough.  Excellent teams practice.  I was recently training a ‘team’ of department managers from each department at a chemical company.  We went through all the classroom stuff and then I sold them on the idea that ‘excellent teams practice.’ 

They agreed with the concept but protested.  When do we have time to practice?  We are all very busy already – when will we have time to practice?  This is crazy, are we suppose to practice Monday before we have a Monday?  Practice a whole week of work before we have a week – this is impossible.  Then it occurred to one manager and she said isn’t Monday practice for Tuesday?  And Tuesday practice for Wednesday? etc.?  Then another manager said the truth is we hit the playing field and just go live and do our best.  There is no practice other than ‘yesterday was practice for today.’

After some discussions we agreed that they did need to practice some critical events such as upcoming customer visits, meetings with government agencies, meetings to discipline employees, meetings to hire a key employee candidate, etc.

They agreed that these meetings were all too important to just leave to chance and that it would pay dividends to spend a little time practicing before each of these key events.


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