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What can you apply to your work team from looking at the coaching methods and disciplines of college sports? Based on a study released by Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) which surveyed almost 2000 coaches on how teams sustained success by building resilience there are 5 Key Elements in Building a Resilient Team.

Throughout the final report of the survey “Sustaining Success by Building Team Resilience: Lessons Learned from College Sports Coaches” there are references to how these elements fit into the office team building environment. Without reproducing the majority of the report findings you can draw your own conclusions from the five key elements explained below.

Set New Goals
The first of these five elements is to Set New Goals for overcoming complacency after team success; for the team and for each individual member. Teams must be challenged to strive for even greater success.
For decades, behavioral scientists have demonstrated the benefits of goal setting for focusing energy and sustaining motivation. Specific, measureable, stretch goals can keep teams moving forward, building on the increase in confidence. Team must have accurate and timely feedback on progress toward goal accomplishment (Locke and Latham, 2002). Must be clearly aware of what is expected from them.
Leaders must instill in their teams a mindset that success is a journey as well as a destination. They, direct their team’s attention away from past accomplishments and toward ever greater accomplishments.

Build a Legacy
The second of the five elements is Build a Legacy. Team leaders can encourage their teams to build a reputation for excellence that will stand the test of time. Leaders can appeal to team members pride in achieving a sustained level of performance that sets it above all others. Again, emphasis on the future helps teams guard against a sense of entitlement, complacency and loss of focus.

Through telling and retelling stories about the accomplishment of legendary teams, organizations make a legacy of success part of their culture (Meyer, 1995). These teams and their accomplishments become role models that future teams can strive to emulate.

Focus on Process, Not Outcome
Third is Focus on Process, Not Outcomes. Coaches said: “Focus on the daily behaviors that are needed to get better. Instead of focusing on other people’s expectation or your final goal, stay in the moment. When pressure starts mounting, we keep the game fun!”

Teams are encouraged to identify cost savings, improve quality and speed delivery time (Blackburn and Rosen, 1993). Even the most successful teams take time out for periodic self-critiques to avoid complacency.
Behavioral scientists have described the phenomenon of team “back-up” behavior (Marks, Sabella, Burke, and Zaccaro, 2002). They said one characteristic of teams with a history of sustained success is the willingness of team members to support each other.

In some instances, the support takes the form of helping an overloaded teammate. In other instances, teammates offer support by double-checking each others’ work, looking for even small errors or imperfections and stepping up to make corrections when needed. The focus is on doing all the little things that help the team sustain excellence.

Accordingly, team leaders can benefit from emphasizing the value of back-up behavior for sustaining success and reward those team members who go the extra mile to back-up and support their teammates.

Create a New Sense of Urgency
The fourth element is to Create a New Sense of Urgency. Coaches reported overcoming complacency by focusing on the competition. They also talked about the added motivation that competitors have to knock off the champions.

The challenge for team leaders is to strike a balance, pushing a team to work to its full potential, but not saddling a team with impossible expectations that can never be met. Team leaders, like college coaches, must develop a deep understanding of their team’s capability and potential. Like their counterparts in college sports, team leaders also need to build in pressure valves—opportunities for teams to let off steam, have fun, and remember the sense of accomplishment that comes with success.

Change, Learn and Grow
Lastly team need to Change, Learn and Grow. Some changes occur naturally as new members join the team. Other changes are created when coaches assign members to new roles, including new leadership roles for some. And, coaches like to “shock the system” by introducing new procedures that require team mastery. Coaches have to be willing to “break it” even if it isn’t broke. They must continually modify best practices for reaching team goals.

Change is the key. We push our team to the edge. We make them uncomfortable and force them to change and adapt. We want them to always feel that they are learning and growing.

In a competitive environment, advancement of new technologies, shifting population demographics, the onset of new government regulations and a multitude of other rapidly changing environmental forces require teams to constantly learn and adapt. Teams that grow stagnant can quickly lose their competitive edge.

Proactive team leaders constantly scan their team’s environment, identify forces for change, and help their teams prepare to meet future contingencies. In some instances, leaders introduce new technologies to support their teams. In other cases, leaders push for the mastery of new skills. And in still other situations, leaders reconfigure work patterns, create new team roles, and assess new dimensions of team effectiveness.
To overcome the potential negative consequences of team success, team leaders need to promote a team climate that values learning, growing and changing.

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