It can be difficult for groups of individuals with various attitudes and ideas to come together into a team, with so many parts tied together. In fact, it is somewhat miraculous each time a cohesive team is formed and maintained. Even professional sports teams, which are very careful about having the right pieces on a team, and the right feel in the clubhouse, oftentimes break down in the heat of the battle; it is amazing how long it takes to build trust or build a team and how quickly it can fall apart. The famous collapses of the 2011 Boston Red Sox and 2012 New York Jets quickly come to mind for sports fans. So how do high-performance teams, with top performers, stay united? If anyone knew the exact answer, they’d make a lot of money, but there are time-honored ideas which guide team success. One of those is having a group value, a collective mentality.
Boise State “Blue Collar”
Boise State football, one of the nation’s small-college Cinderellas, has been examined over and over to find out why they are able to run such a “tight ship.” While many have tried to replicate their methods and level of success, few have been able to get team players to work as hard or perform as well in the classroom or on the field. As a program with fewer resources than giants around them, they found a niche in recruiting players that were high character, low ego, and optimally skilled. Then, they had training and leadership in place to build talent, whereas other schools got great prospects that wouldn't buy into the team or work as hard to improve which ultimately didn't get to the level that Boise State’s players reached. After winning with this method, they would often sign a recruit--one that wasn’t highly coveted instead of an often me-first superstar--saying that they liked his skills, but loved that he was one of “our guys.” More importantly, once the process had achieved some success, it became a badge of honor to be one of Coach Peterson’s blue-collar workhorses. They kept that going by using incentives like “the hammer” for the hardest worker on a little noticed part of the team.
Real Estate Values
It may be harder for real estate teams to establish a team value that really is more than just a motto that graces the pages of marketing material, as real estate agents can be very individualistic. High-performance teams recognize the value not only of a team, but of something that actually binds team members together. Team values can form an important role in giving team identity, a highly desired cohesive quality and reason for existing. On our team, our main values are teamwork, energy, and innovation. These aren't so much written as instilled in team members through interactions primarily with team leadership, but also with other team members, especially experienced ones. This helps in every aspect of team building, from choosing those who will excel in your team environment to even having to let go of team members who may be sucking the life out of the team or not performing. College coaches have to discipline or lift the vision of those who are breaking the good energy and that hard task needs to happen on high-performance real estate teams as well, though it can be done naturally. During a regular day, team values motivate team members once they've internalized the values -- for example, when its 3:00pm on a Friday and an agent starts to drag, if they remember the team is about keeping energy up and working hard and they see others keeping pace, they can push through and keep finding or taking care of clients. It may not be as glamorous as a sports player who keeps going in the 4th quarter, but high-performance real estate teams take better care of clients, while earning more in their business.
Be careful not to make team values seem corny or trite or they won’t be meaningful. Though team leadership should initiate and have final say on what the team values, team members have to fit what is chosen and be fully “on board.” Once a good system is going, it can be kept going with effort, though setting up a team climate will take possibly even greater effort and care.