Get Your Kicks

Build a solid team with people who fit your company culture.

November 3, 2013

It was a motley group of CUNA employees that assembled after work the other day for a rousing and spontaneous game of kickball at the park across the street.

We hailed from various departments; the game was a nice opportunity for us to become better acquainted.  The informal match allowed us to appreciate not only our respective personalities, but provided a chance to put into practice traits and abilities that are relevant, helpful, and necessary as we work together back in the office.

We were creative: a grocery bag and two random pairs of shoes served as bases; players came to consensus with discussion of available resources.

Leadership was evident as knowledgeable staffers kept us politely informed with rule clarifications. Good communication persisted as we shouted congratulations and words of encouragement, recognizing player contributions, abilities, and successes.

An early departure required a teammate swap and “reorg,” accomplished without incident or rancor.

Together, we monitored the score. We tracked procedure and progress. Our disparate teams quickly became cohesive as we learned one another’s strengths, weaknesses, and played accordingly—with respect, enthusiasm, and mutual support.

Research this week poses suggestions for effective recruitment, leadership tips, and other considerations to help assemble and develop successful teams. Let’s get our kicks!

‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.’—Henry Ford

How might team captains draft the best players? See “How to Attract and Keep Motivated Employees” at CNNMoney. “The way you select a mix of talent on your team and the strategies you use to retain people can make a major difference… as they help the company reach its goals.”

Three considerations when selecting engaged team players:

  • Market for candidates. Aim for at least 20 prospects for each available position.
  • Make diversity a goal. “CEO mini-me’s” will not bring new perspectives. Varied experts “will create a more exciting environment for everyone on your team.”
  • Clear roadblocks. Eliminate inefficiencies and poor management practices to nurture engagement.

Experience in a specific industry need not be a requirement when you hire. Instead, “Capitalize on Candidate Potential,” suggests Talent Management.

“Job seekers who have found themselves in a lurch after working in an unsuccessful industry are often more willing to put in the work to measure themselves against their competition,” notes the article. Look for candidates who have a strong work ethic, are well-prepared for interviews outside their industry, and have “successfully navigated their networks to get an interview with you.” Beware the idea that “industry trumps raw talent… It’s a shortsighted decision.”

Job seekers have lessons available for the taking at MarketWatch. Survey results from CareerBuilder indicate prospective players need to be prepared to speak with the “top brass” during an interview, and “38% of employers reported that job candidates are required to interview with a C-level executive.”

Other tips: interviewees need to be aware their online presence will likely be checked, including Facebook, Twitter, and other digital places candidates might post comments. Also, candidates should ascertain whether prospective employers are “aligned with…work values” and know, in turn, “23% of employers will dismiss a candidate who is not a good fit for their company culture.”

‘Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.’—Michael Jordan

To keep the star on your team, you need to know the “10 Things Employees Want More Than a Raise” from “If they’re treated right, employees will not only work for less, they’ll be happier and more productive as they do so,” notes Inc.

Among employee wants:

  • Fair treatment. Avoid favoritism.
  • To be heard. Bosses who care listen.
  • A personal life. Employees need time with friends and family.
  • To be the best. “Never underestimate the power of teamwork… Employees want to play on the winning team.”
  • Coaches, not micromanagers. Employees don’t want bosses looking over their shoulders.

Are you a micromanager? You’ve not lost the game yet! See “How to Stop Being a Micromanager,” at Intuit. This article helps you identify micromanager tendencies, outlines problems that occur as a result, and suggests corrective action for those suffering with this managerial style.

To squelch micromanaging, let go of notions of perfection, says Intuit. Start delegating to competent employees—and let them handle responsibility. Finally, “Build a strong team. Everything starts by hiring the right employees who are a good fit.”

‘Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.’—Alexander the Great

Leaders and team captains set the tone for staff and team players; leadership strategy is an important consideration. Do you know “How to Lead When Your Employees Don’t Have to Follow”?

“The fundamental leadership truth you cannot ignore is that if it’s a choice for you, it’s also a choice for your team. Everyone is a volunteer,” notes this interesting blog post. “You cannot force anyone to do anything.”

Follow these steps to inspire your team:

  • Make sure your team knows why goals, tasks, and “to do’s” are meaningful.
  • Provide support. Help your staff.
  • Apologize when you make mistakes.
  • Have expectations and set standards so everyone is accountable and performs their best.
  • Say “thanks” when your team achieves.

One final message this week is that we can find success in doing what we love to do.

“Unfortunately, the society that we live in reinforces the belief that you can’t make money doing what you love but rather earn money doing something that you have no passion for,” says an inspiring Huffington Post blog. 

“To be engaged in work that totally consumes you and excites you is one of the secrets of success…your discontent is your soul telling you that there is something else that you need to look for or find.”

Perhaps team players will have lesser chances of finding themselves benched when they follow the simple credo to do what they love, and success will inherently follow—for not only themselves, but for the teams on which they play and the organizations where they work.

The final score of our inaugural kickball match was 20-25. It was a heated contest displaying not only great feats of strength, but also camaraderie, respect, good communication, creativity, attention to detail, and sense of purpose.

Ultimately the final score didn’t matter; we had so much fun that we intend to reconvene next Wednesday.

We are all winners!






Lora Bray is a research librarian at CUNA.