It struck me as I watched the U.S. Olympic trials that how much effort each athlete must invest in their discipline to achieve the Olympic level of success. The skills, knowledge, and experience required to succeed in any given sport, or team endeavor, can feel overwhelming.

A team may have to work together on projects of Olympic size in order to achieve their goals. These teams, whether they are an established or new unit, must not only learn their roles but also understand the desired outcome. To reach their ‘podium,’ they must interact with other members.

There are three essential elements that must be present in each member of a team before you can teach them something new.

  • Willingness and openness to learning
  • Essential skills to execute the project
  • A basic knowledge of the tasks required to reach the goals

Each member of a team will have different levels of expertise in each area. Your job is to manage the team and fill in any knowledge or skill gaps.

However, there is one area that must be present in all members of the team. Willingness and willingness to learn. Every member of the team must show that they are willing to accept a challenge, even if it is difficult. If the team is to succeed, they will need to be willing to fail and to take some risks. Skills can, in most cases, be learned. You can share or learn knowledge over time. Each member of the team must be open to receiving new information and receive coaching. It is impossible to create an individual spark or fire.

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Once you have an accurate picture of each member’s position in these areas, you can then move on to coaching or teaching the team. Understanding the three learning styles is essential in order to impart knowledge.

Your team members may be kinesthetic, auditory or visual learners. Your dominant learning style will influence the way you communicate information and teach new skills. Are your team members doers? Are they able to do the work? Do your team members need to hear information in different formats? Are your team members visual learners? Are they visual learners or do they need visual cues and tools to stimulate learning?

Training, coaching, and education must be tailored to each individual’s learning style. Remember that not all team members learn at the same speed and may require additional support.

Team success will ultimately come down to shared goals and timeframes. Each team member should work towards the same goal. This will increase their chances of success. It is important that you allow your team to set boundaries and consequences for each other. Also, a clear accountability plan should be established.

When preparing your team to achieve greater goals, personality styles will also be an issue. It doesn’t matter if you use Meyers Briggs(r), or DISC(r), it is important that each member of your team understands the other’s style in order to maximize output.

External factors and internal politics can further complicate team learning dynamics. You won’t be able to adjust your strategy if you don’t keep an eye on the external forces that can cause problems for your team. As team members compete for recognition and promotions, internal politics can also be a hindrance. Pay attention to the motivational forces within your team.

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It is time to recognize the team members who have demonstrated mastery or achieved the desired outcome. Each member of the team may be motivated differently. Group rewards are rarely the best. Always remember that each member of the team is an individual. Consider the impact of group rewards on all members of your team.

Training for the Olympic Team is not for everyone. That is why only a few athletes achieve that goal. Although your teams can be great, it is up to the manager to help them develop, challenge, and motivate their team to achieve even greater results.