Creating A Team Culture Doesn’t Stop At The Locker Room Door

I remember my son's first season of organized hockey. He played with a local house team that finished the year 0-25-1. We had a blast.

Of course no one likes losing, but from the first meeting of that season, the head coach laid out plain and simple what the deal was. This was a team of kids just learning the game. His job was to make sure they learned how to play the right way, and that they had fun so they could continue to develop their skills and passion for the game no matter what path they chose on their hockey journey. 

It took time for some parents to get used to the inevitable outcomes while several others continued to groan after each loss. But through it all there was no doubt that our kids were having fun and enjoying their time together on the ice and in the locker room.

Team building is about bringing in individuals with different backgrounds and personalities and molding them into a cohesive unit to achieve a common goal. It's a process that starts on the first day of the season and continues to the last game of the playoffs. That is, if you're lucky enough to make the playoffs.

I've always found that it's pretty easy to get kids to buy in. Parents can sometimes take longer to come around. 

"Creating an environment where kids can learn and thrive starts by establishing a team culture that is not centered on winning but rather having fun and learning the valuable lessons that a team sport like hockey can teach us. Parents play an integral role in making that happen," says JB Spisso, leadership and culture development expert. 

Too often, coaches try to force team culture to take shape on the fly rather than let it evolve organically. Remaining positive and building a culture of success starts with setting standards that include accountability, selflessness, integrity, positive effort and attitude. Throwing in a dose of perspective never hurts.

It takes time, a clear vision, honest communication and a little empathy to get everyone on the same page.

As a parent, I always appreciated when a coach sets the tone in that first team meeting and puts everything in writing. In addition to clearly stating parent and player codes of conduct, it's important to get parents on the same page when it comes to those tasks that lead to a successful season. 

Despite our best plans and intentions, life can be unpredictable. It's how we handle those twists and turns along the way that ultimately make us champions.

We're never going to win every game or hoist the championship trophy every season. But if we learn how to come together and find happiness in the journey, we can persevere through even the toughest of challenges. Even if that means smiling through an 0-25-1 season. 



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