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Blog / November 14, 2018

Teambuilding Part 1: temporal sequences

As most of you might know being a successful Esportsteam won’t happen over night. Building a new team from scratch or changing active rosters is an important process, which you should take care of right from the start to ensure the foundation for a cooperative working environment and a positive outcome of the whole project in the future.

You must be aware of the fact that when creating a team or changing the lineup, social, organizational and emotional factors play a role that decide on future success or failure. If you become aware of all the details of the process, you get the chance to plan the team building way better, to work out specific priorities and to communicate more clearly about all processes taking place. At the end of the day you should never see the process of building a team simply as taken for granted, or something trivial, but as the chance to have another opportunity where you can be diligent and increase the quality of the team and thereby  the chances of success. So you should ask yourself what typical phases and factors are when it comes to build up a team. For the sake of simplicity, I will now use teambuilding as a term for both, the complete new founding of a team, as well as the change of an active roster. Many aspects affect both in the same way, but there are also differences that I will explain later, or that will become clear in the related examples.

In this article we will look at the temporal phases in which the process itself is divided into in my opinion, while in part two we will have a look at the key success factors.

You can roughly sketch the temporal course of a team with the following sequence:

Decision, Recruiting,Exploration,Equalizing,Routine

This is a rough breakdown of the chronology of a team building process, as I can’t go too much into detail of every aspect, because this article shall give you just a brief overview about every single phase a team goes through before reaching practice routine.

First of all there is a

Decision

There is always a reason why a team is formed. It’s not just that some people get together to play a competitive Esports title together, but there’s always a certain history behind it. A background leads each participant to a common point in time, that of the decision. And behind every decision of the present there is a motive in the future. Which is your motivation. And this motivation should be the common feature of the team right from the start. By the way a lot of people get the term motivation really, really wrong. Motivation is not to be confused with willpower, energy, drive or discipline. These things are not to be equated with motivation, but merely result from it. Motivation means having a concrete vision for the future, which represents a certain value for the respective person. And it is from this motivation that the things I have just mentioned, such as energy, drive, etc., are generated.

Many players out there are often unaware of their own motives and motivation and do not work on their development as Esports athletes in order to achieve long-term goals build on long-term motivation. Consensus between the team and all concerned is essential for every dimension of working together. This consensus forms the purpose of the team, the actual intention of the project. Especially in the first phase, at the very beginning, the reason, the decision itself and its consequences should be carefully reconsidered in order to clearly define and communicate them. So you have to look at “what led us to this decision or what is the reason for it”, “what is the current situation” and “what is our vision for the future” even before actual action and steps are made. Because it is important, that not necessarily the most simple, most immediate decisions are made, but the right ones. In order to be able to make the best possible decision, the said care must be taken right from the start.

Recruiting

Once the purpose, the goal, the intention of the team itself has been clarified and all motives and visions of all parties concerned have been revealed, it becomes clearer what demands are made on the team and what possible profiles of suitable people might look like.

To make it clear in one principle: The more unspecific the intention is clarified, the less precise the search for suitable players becomes. The more carefully and precisely the past history, current situation and future goals have been clarified and defined, the clearer the attributes of the players to be found for the lineup will become. This is then based on a key-lock principle by finding the right person for the right job.

This is accompanied by the question of how the selection process is designed, for example which criteria are used to filter interested parties and potential candidates and which methods and channels are used for this. Some important questions at this point are also:  Where are sharp borders of the criteria set, in which points are compromises possible, what are timescales and deadlines. In doing so, it also plays a decisive role how first meetings of the participants are organized and under what conditions they take place, how first discussions are structurized, which topics are to be discussed in which specific form and with which results. However, at the end of the recruiting process the result should be the best possible selection of the team members considering the available resources and requirements. But what looks good in theory has to be proven in practice.

Speaking of this, let’s have a look at the next phase

Exploration or Tryout

Every product, every machine, drug and so on are tested before they are launched onto the market to test it under real conditions, analyze the results and optimize or discard it before it is officially in use. Likewise, you should test, analyze and modify the team constellation under real conditions before making binding commitments. If this isn’t done, and team operations are started immediately, this can result in failure, loss of time or, in the very worst case, even loss of prize money or business opportunities. This may not be a crucial thing on casual or amateur-levels of Esports. But just keep in mind: big organizations are technically just brands in a market called Esports and every team and player is a part of their sales concept. So even before the team is actively put into business, it must be checked whether every aspect of the team could potentially work. The time requirements for this step are quite different, because different experiences have to be gathered and it usually takes a certain amount of time to find out whether the previous theoretical considerations also agree with practice. This process is closely linked to the next phase. However, the focus of the work during this period is still on identifying and testing potential before the work and energy input is intensified in order to be able to react more flexible to elements in the team that do not fit into the desired concept.

Equalizing

From a certain point on, it’s all about turning the individual players into a team. New team formations and lineup changes are often characterized by a lot of uncertainties. The situation is new for those involved and in new situations it is often difficult to find familiar patterns. But there comes a point where things start to normalize, everyone starts to find their place in the group. In the best case, the players should no longer consider themselves as independent individuals, but should start to work and learn in the context of the team. If not, that could be the crucial point at which one should decide whether the lineup can fulfill the motives and vision of the individual players and all involved persons in the long run or not. This is the earliest point where you can make serious reflection about the team as a whole. For example, you might see that the individual players are doing well, but the team as a whole is failing, and that has less to do with not having enough time for testing, or the mindset being consistent, than with working on things and dimensions that are no longer in the individual player’s hands, but are in the group’s structure

That’s the point where you just have to look if it fits or not. If it doesn’t work, as thought, there are enough ways to work on it and overcome problems. For example through group-dynamic coaching methods and such. But this would go beyond the context of the post. If everything fits, the team’s everyday life will become routine at some point.

Routine

This is the final phase, in which a complete team is set up. Routine is the biggest challenge that a new team has to face and the one that most new teams ultimately fail to deal with. Routine in this case means that you can focus together consistently on goal-oriented and performance-oriented work. And here is my argument. In order to form and maintain this routine, everyone must have brought the same motives with them. As said in point 1, the shared  mindset must be there right from the start in order to guarantee two things in particular at the end of the process: Stability and continuity. Stability and continuity are the essence of routine, routine is necessary for progressive work and progress brings you closer to your goals. So the bottom line here is: Sharing the same motives from the start is essential to build a routine at a later stage.