Use This Checklist To Help Your Team.

A popular topic of discussion each March deals with the NCAA basketball tournament and what is commonly known as March Madness. First of all, people talk about who’s in, who’s out, and who’s on the bubble. Then after debates over individual games, regional winners and such, the focus comes down to which teams are going to the final four and who is going to win it all.
During this excitement and talk, there are also many discussions among disgruntled fans whose teams are left out of the entire event or quickly eliminated. They ask, “Is it the coach? Is it the players? Is it the lack of support from the school or fan base?” Not only basketball teams, but also other sports teams, businesses, schools, churches, families, and various organizations would benefit from similar discussions.
Why do some basketball teams perform well year-in and year-out when March Madness rolls around while others barely make it into the tournament at best? Why do some sports teams and teams in multiple areas of society consistently perform well while others struggle? Well, the reasons may not always be extremely clear and may require much inspection. But here are a few core concepts that teams can focus on to help answer the questions:
Every group leader and member has to deal with the challenge of balancing loyalty to the team with loyalty to individual styles. It was said that legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith was the only person who could keep Michael Jordan from scoring. The statement arose when Coach Smith molded a scoring machine into a team player that helped win championships. Jordan took his well-learned lessons with him when he left the college ranks and joined the NBA Chicago Bulls where additional championships were won. A coach must develop individual styles and personalities to work for the team rather than tear apart the team. Value is placed on both the team and the individual.
Leaders and team members must understand exactly what the organizational goals are and how success is going to be measured. The goals need to be well articulated and understood by all, so this means that effective communication is vital. To be effective, it should flow freely vertically and horizontally. Informal talks and formal meetings should be productive. To insure everyone is doing his or her job and everyone is on the same page, ongoing feedback and evaluation are necessary. This allows for corrections as needed and encouragement for a job well done. There must be a clear understanding of roles, responsibilities, expectations, and how to solve problems.
Understanding team goals is not the same as buying into them. Everyone needs to commit to the goals. In addition, difficulties arise when people are committed to the goals but dislike others in the organization. Prior to doing training sessions with groups, I often perform internal and external surveys. I discovered that in one group the employees didn’t like management, management didn’t like the employees, and there was bitterness and jealousy among employees. Big challenge! Diversity of styles and personalities must be dealt with creatively and successfully. With discipline and commitment, dislike can be replaced by respecting differences. Conflict resolution is a vital asset for any individual or team.
None of the above leads to success, of course, unless the team has a competent coach and competent members. Lack of knowledge, skill, and dedication cannot be covered up. The knowledge and skills must be in both the technical and human side of things. The people must have a handle on their jobs and must relate to others within the group. If you are an offensive lineman in football who can’t block and can’t communicate with the coach and other players, you and the team have a problem. If you are an engineer who can’t read a map and can’t accept training or advice, you and the team have a problem.   
How does your group measure up against this checklist?
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 3,000 events, can be contacted at or 865-436-7478. His books, including A Strategy For Winning, People of Passion, Anatomy Of A Leader, Are We Communicating Yet? and Winning Thoughts, are available in stores, on,, and other Internet locations.


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