How to Prep Your Team for a Successful Year by Peter DeCaprio

by kbing

What makes a successful team? Is it all about talent and swimming fast times, or is something else at play? When you begin to dissect what it takes to create success in any environment (sports, business, etc.), the ingredients are often not that complicated. The ability to identify the most effective path forward is complex enough; successfully executing on that plan can seem impossible at times; but simply having the passion and willingness to prepare for the execution of that plan will typically result in some level of success. So how can we apply this theory to coaching our teams through an entire season? What is the recipe for creating a successful team? 

We have created a model that focuses on four specific components.

  • First, begin with a vision. Identify what you want to achieve in the short term (e.g., conference champions) and long term (e.g., NCAA champions). The vision should be exciting for your team because it captures their imagination rather than just being another goal that makes them feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed. Identifying this vision is an ongoing process throughout the offseason, so once you have created this document, refers back to it throughout the year when communicating with your team says Peter DeCaprio.
  • Second, identify resources available to help you reach these goals. This can include anything from people in your program who have specific expertise, to existing facilities that will help meet practice needs, or even community partners that you can rely on when your team needs services or equipment. These resources will help you to build a roadmap for how you are going to execute on this vision.
  • Third, create an execution plan that breaks down the necessary steps for building this future state into a reality. This document should be created at the beginning of each semester, but will require updates throughout the year because priorities change based on what is happening in your sport and with your team.   The example timeline below depicts the timeframes when different portions of this plan should be communicated to your team:
  • Fourth, communicate plans frequently with open lines of communication. It is important not only to share these plans frequently with your team, but also take feedback from them about their expectations or concerns related to certain milestones or key events along this path.
  • Finally, you should also think about how to measure progress towards your vision. What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you determine if what you are doing is working? If it isn’t, don’t be afraid to make changes to your execution plan; but remember that there is no perfect blueprint for success. There are many paths to getting where you want to go, so remember that you should still have the excitement and energy from your initial vision even when things get challenging along the way!
  • Your company has given you the go-ahead to implement the changes you feel are necessary for your department. The first step is always finding out who’s who in your crew, and once that’s done, it will be time to get down to business. 

Whether your goal is to bring about an improvement in sales or just ensure that every customer leaves feeling top of the world after having dealt with you, here are some tips on getting off on the right foot:

First things first: 

If there’s one thing successful companies understand better than anyone else, it’s how integral communication is at keeping employees productive and their goals met. That means creating a thorough overview of your plan for said year so everyone involved knows what they’re working towards and can assist you in attaining those goals.

No one person is an island: 

this isn’t to say your goal should be to create a department of yes-men and women who follow your every command without question, but if everyone on board has something valuable to bring to the table, whether it’s positive feedback on how you could improve or their own suggestions for next year’s plan, then that will be reflected in the finished product.

Writing things down: 

a lot of people deal with anxiety by carrying around notes about all their plans and goals – personally, I find this unnecessary as I’m someone who deals better with concepts than words, but whatever works for you is just fine! A good idea, though, is to jot down any improvements you feel will help out your department, so when the time rolls around for your yearly review with your boss (or bosses), there’s nothing left unsaid.

Time to get in gear:  

Before you hit that send button on an email to everyone in your company outlining what needs to be done and how it should be completed, make sure they’re all onboard? To do otherwise would be like trying to take off in a plane before its wheels are locked into place; something my brother is eternally grateful I never attempted.

Conclusion by Peter DeCaprio

The key to successful endeavors is starting with the end in mind. Set your sights high, and then go after it with gusto! And whatever you do, don’t be afraid to ask for some help along the way – there’s no shame in having too much on your plate. It’s all up to you now; good luck!

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