How to Find Good Teammates

Shawn Temple
How to Find Good Teammates

Recently, I had the pleasure of looking at a series of interesting interviews with college basketball coaches. Coaches of highly successful men’s and women’s basketball programs are speaking about what it means to be a good teammate, and specifically, what they look for when recruiting players.

What you don’t hear in the interviews is anything about skill, talent or expertise. These coaches know every player demonstrates the technical ability to play the game. They also know that’s not what is going to ensure their program’s continued success.

They need something more. They are looking for it. They are recruiting for it.

And thanks to their insights, you have some things to use in your recruitment process too.


Find Those Who Engage While on the Bench


Basketball coaches go on recruiting trips to high school gyms all over the country looking for the intangibles. They want to know how engaged you are in the game when you’re on the bench. That’s right—they travel to see these players not play.

Is the player paying attention? Is the player cheering on teammates? Are they encouraging to those players on the floor? Are they demonstrating enthusiasm?

One coach went so far as to say she sneaks into gyms for games in which (based on the caliber of the opposing team) the player she is recruiting will not play because the team should easily win without her. The coach is specifically gauging the player’s engagement with the game and with her teammates when there is no possibility she will see one minute of action.

Now, think of your credit union or community bank’s team.

Your team members are not always in the spotlight, but they should always engage with the game by supporting each other, encouraging each other and helping in any way they can.


Recruit People Who Move Beyond Mistakes


Coaches are also looking for reactions when things go badly. The player makes a mistake. The player gets benched.

What does their body language say? Do they drop their heads in dejection? Are they visibly upset? In addition to non-verbal behavior, maybe their verbal reaction leaves something to be desired.

In the financial world, your team isn’t always going to play well.  Bad things are going to happen. How do employees respond in those moments? The best players quickly move beyond mistakes and are ready to make the next play.


 Look for a Good Work Ethic


One coach said we can play good and win. We can play good and lose. We can play great and win. We can play great and lose. But we can’t play bad and win.

Another coach pointed out the obvious: players hate to be taken out of the game. He said you must make contributions, and if you do, you stay on the court and off the bench. If you miss shots, that’s fine…but you should still stop the other team when you play defense. You can’t miss shots and not get stops.

A final coach said the difference between good players and great players is that great players don’t get tired. When everyone else collapses, they persevere. They are resilient. They push through the difficulties.  

This sentiment speaks to effort at your organization.

Coaches across the board use the same universal line: I will not coach effort. And you won’t either. Good teammates show up for every play in every game. If a staff member isn’t giving 100%, a seat on the bench awaits them.


Don’t Coach the Intangibles


So, coaches want to coach players on how to get better within the game. In other words, they can coach ball screens, certain defenses, how to increase free throw percentages and so on. But they only want to coach players for whom that’s all they must coach. They’re looking for players who already have the intangibles on how to be good teammates.

The same is true in our organizations. You can teach the skills that will help employees win each game. But too many of us are also coaching the intangibles.

You can’t move forward at the required pace when you’re mired in trying to coach dysfunctional teams. Focus on recruiting, hiring and onboarding people that have the intangibles of a good teammate.

Commit to that strategy and everything will become easier, faster and better. Because then…you can focus on what you do best: coaching the team to win.

If you’re ready to coach a winning team, then enlist an assistant coach to come along side you with On The Mark Strategies’ organizational alignment program. Book a free consultation now.

Shawn Temple
Strategy Director