Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What about Team Culture?

Daniel Coyle’s newest book, “The Culture Code” subtitled “The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups” is worth your time if you are involved in putting together any group of people with the stated intention of being successful.
He discusses the 3 skills needed: building safety, sharing vulnerability and establishing purpose. We won’t review it here today but offer this observation instead.
In our North Bay Aquatics Senior Training group we have about 45 athletes. Due to pool constraints we have 8th graders through seniors in high school. Normally we have maybe one or two 8th graders and the number in the group is more like 35. We have had several issues since the beginning of 2018 where it is apparent that as a group we currently do not have our culture working the way we would like it to be. Each of the 3 incidents were different but they all pointed to the fact that we weren’t taking very good care of each other.
As Coyle points out the word CULTURE comes from the Latin “cultus” which means “care”.
On Saturday at workout we had a group conversation and after some chatting and a really good real world training situation from Ken’s days on the University of Arizona collegiate swim team, we felt like the message had been sent. In this particular situation it was that each swimmer has different capacities for training and it will always be this way in any group. Therefore when someone is not “laying it all out there all the time” some care needs to be administered so that everyone in the group feels like they belong and have value.
Then we were flabbergasted. We asked them – teenagers all – do they have discussions at school, either formally or informally about team culture, working together, overcoming personal obstacles in a group setting…things like that. We have kids in 5 different middle schools, 4 different public high schools and 5 different private high schools. Only 2 hands went up. One from a junior who said as a freshman there were some issues in his school about inappropriate behavior centering around drug/drinking activities; one from a sophomore who said last week her school had a lecture (you can imagine how helpful that was) for 20 minutes on the general subject of group dynamics.
So, it is still reading, writing and ‘rythmatic. If you ever wondered how valuable your swim team is in the development of young people into fully functioning adults…we say wonder no more.
10x100 on the 1:10 is different from 10x100 on 3 minutes…but in both sets the team culture is critical to the outcome of each person…make no mistake about that.

No comments: