Tips For Team Building

Tips for Team Building

By Dave Baragrey


As football season begins we watch college teams prepare for another season of gridiron action. We see the news reports and speculations of what teams are expected to win the most games based on their talent, yet every year, despite a constant turnover of players some college teams are ranked in the top 25 regardless of the talent of their players. They have developed a winning tradition that follows year after year. What is the “magic” that keeps these teams in the top 25 every year? How can your paper, despite a frequent turnover of players, continue to be ranked in the “top 25” year after year? There are things we can learn from college football coaches.


Practice the Fundamentals


Everyday at football practice the players run through drills to make sure they know their role on every play. How is your staff training scheduled? We usually do a good job of training our sales force, but what about the rest of the team? Football teams don’t only work on training the running backs and wide receivers, they have to make sure everyone on the team is well trained.


Most publications do a reasonable job of initial training of their production staff but often the training stops there. They seldom offer any on-going training program. Most state associations offer production training sessions at conferences occasionally at a reasonable cost to your paper. If your association doesn’t, let them know the type of training you would like to see more of at the conferences. 


What about the quarterback? One of the most overlooked areas of training at papers is the training of their front line managers. Often, we promote a great salesperson, comp artist or other deserving staff member to the role of department manager without providing the proper training to teach them how to manage their staff. We then wonder what happened to his great salesperson that is now a mediocre manager. The quarterback (dept. manager) of the team needs training in how to call the plays and how to motivate the team to perform their job well on every play.


Go Over the Game Tape


After every game the team watches game tape to see what they did wrong and right in the last game. At your paper, do you have the staff go through the game tape (the previous published paper) to praise them for an assignment that was completed well and to let them know about a blown assignment?


Steaks Dinners for the Offensive Line


We report on the game and describe all the great plays the quarterback, running backs and wide receivers made, but the linemen get no glory. Great quarterbacks treat their linemen to a steak dinner because they know that without their blocking the big plays have no chances of being successful. The linemen continue to work hard every week to protect the quarterback because they know he appreciates their work in the trenches. Is your quarterback (the dept. manager) giving the linemen (dept. staff) the positive reinforcement they need for top performance in the next game?


It is amazing what a kind word recognizing a job well done does for the attitude of your staff. Unless you are paying your staff 3 million dollars a year plus a signing bonus, you need to provide positive feedback that makes them feel an important part of the team.


No Breakdowns in the Line


Every member of the team has a specific duty on each play. If just one breakdown occurs, the play can be ruined. If the offensive line misses a block the quarterback is sacked. If a defensive back blows the coverage, the opposing team completes a long pass for a touchdown. Despite the best plans, if an assignment is blown, the opposing team can score. Team members must complete their assignment for the play to be successful.


At our paper, we can’t afford for individual team members to blow their assignment. If the salesperson does a great job of researching information, preparing the presentation and convincing the client to buy advertising in your paper, the play can be blown by errors in composition, poor printing quality or non-delivery of the paper to the consumer.


Team members need to know how important their role is in the success of the team. If they feel that their performance doesn’t matter to the success of the team they will start missing blocks and blowing tackles that will allow the competition to score.


Here is a quote to remember:

”If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That's all it takes to get people to win football games for you.”

 Paul Bear Bryant, Former football coach, University of Alabama


Dave Baragrey is a business consultant and sales trainer for Publishers-Edge, a Special Section syndicate for print and on-line special sections, and Consulting business specifically designed to help newspapers and shopping guides.

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