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7 Steps for Building an Olympic Level Team

Feb 7, 2014 2:41:10 AM

in Creating Your Dream Team 101

There is a common understanding that for athletes to reach the top of their game and compete at the Olympic level, they have worked very hard to train and develop over an extended period of time.

Athletes are not trained with a ‘sink-or-swim’ mentality; they are usually spotted young and put onto development teams where their talent is nurtured and combined with technical training and conditioning from experienced coaching staff. Similarly, if you want your team to compete at a high level, training and development must be a key component of your strategy to succeed.

When one spots new talent in a professional environment, it can be easy to assume that they'll be productive and perform at a high level very quickly, and with minimal coaching. However, if managers neglect to invest in developing their employees with relevant support and training, the team will be unlikely to achieve its full potential.

Here are 7 guidelines for developing your team to an Olympic level:

  • It all starts on day one – Day one should be a positive experience for your new talent. When you provide your new hire with a positive experience on their first day, you are setting up the runner’s blocks for them to launch ahead as an engaged and contributing team member.
  • Get your resources ready – Right from the start, your employees need to have the right resources available to be set up for success. For a new hire to show up on their first day and not have a computer, desk, or access to relevant internal systems set up is like showing up to train with only half of the equipment required to do so. Besides being putting the team behind to begin orientation, it can feel unwelcoming and disorganized. When you have all of the starting pieces in place, your new hire can assemble themselves into the equation and envision themselves 'at home' in their new position from day one.
  • Provide clarity with a training outline – No athlete reaches a high level of competition without a training plan, so why do we often expect new hires to advance without a plan to develop their skills? Regardless of talent, skills need to be honed and processes need to be learned. When we give our new hires their schedule for learning and expected outcomes, they can follow these guidelines and feel confident in knowing what's going to be expected of them.
  • Set goals and monitor personal bestsSetting benchmarks for success creates an attitude of looking forward to what is possible. The athletes competing in Sochi started by looking to smaller goals; from regionals, to qualifiers, and eventually to reach the Olympic Games. Setting these goals will keep your employees' eyes focused on their targets and future advancements available at an organizational level. Monitoring Personal Bests, or PBs, is a simple approach to monitoring personal development for employees. When an employee has perspective on their best performance to date, as well as their short- and long-term goals, they can challenge themselves to exceed expectations.
  • Teach the relevant skills While your national curling team probably has a basic comprehension of the mechanics of skating, it certainly does not need to be proficient in the rules of hockey. Similarly, your sales team doesn’t need to really understand C++. Having the basic comprehension of what your indirect teammates do at an organizational level certainly leads to better internal relations as well as an understanding of departmental priorities. That said, aside from knowing that the ice required for curling and hockey is different, the detailed mechanics of how and why are not always relevant for an employee's success.
  • Mentor your young stars When you spot promising young talent, nurture it. With mentorship and goals, inexperienced talent with plenty of potential can grow into a top performer for your team. When we skip the mentorship component with younger talent, we are expecting growth without goals, support, or role models for advancement.
  • Reach out to those who fall behind When a team member starts to lag, keep in mind the real costs of turnover and spend some time supporting them. By taking a four step approach, you can ensure that you have given your employees the support and attention they need before making critical decisions. By outlining and collaborating with your struggling employee on a strategy, a plan of attack, defining their key roles, and establishing rewards, you can provide the transparency and incentive they need to push their game to the next level.

For more details on setting SMART goals, executing performance reviews, and evaluating development needs, access our Performance Review Planner!

Download: Performance Review Program 

Filed under Creating Your Dream Team 101

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