Do you have great working teams?

4 Team-building Lessons from Coach Jerry Kill

For years, my husband and I have followed Minnesota Gopher football (We became season ticket holders in 2009 when TCF Bank Stadium opened.), and we’ve patiently waited for a viable team.

Looks like they’ve arrived.

As of this writing and with two games left in their regular schedule, the team is enjoying an 8-2 overall record.

The Gophers haven’t had this many victories since going 10-3 in 2003.

And with its eighth victory (over Penn State on November 9) the Gophers won four straight Big Ten games in the same season for the first time since 1973. 

We’re excited, and so when I heard Gopher tight end Maxx Willliams in a radio interview recently, I perked up and listened.

I don’t recall his exact words but in short Williams pointed to teamwork, the confidence that comes from success, and trust in fellow teammates as reasons for the Gophers’ four-game Big Ten winning streak.

“We’ve come together as a team,” he said, and above all, he credited head coach Jerry Kill.

Naturally what he said led me to think about teams and team building in business.

And to this point, I must say that when viewed through the lens of team building, what Coach Kill is doing is pretty impressive.

Here’s what I mean along with four lessons we can learn to strengthen team building in our organizations: 

Fill positions with talented performers
Coach Jerry Kill has built a talented organization. Yes, I realize his team members aren’t exclusively his recruits, but he has recognized players’ skill sets and uses players in positions that help the team succeed.

More to the point, he has surrounded himself with a cohesive and talented coaching staff. For health reasons, Kill recently took a leave of absence and in the past four games (as of this writing) has not coached from the sideline. Instead, he has allowed his assistant coaches, who he has had with him for many years, to lead his team. He knows he has assembled a staff he can depend on, a staff who believes in his mission and goals, and he trusts them to get the job done.

Successful businesses build talented organizations, too. They select people with skill sets they need to accomplish their goals.

They also job match, that is they compare their candidates to their proven top performers. And they select people who fit their organizations - who believe in its values and mission. They then put their trust in those people.
Devote time to development

Although he may not have the most talented team in the Big Ten, Coach Kill is developing his players so that they make the best of the skills they have. As a result, his players are accomplishing great things and believing in themselves. 

Successful businesses devote time to development, too. Because they do, their teams find it easier to set and reach goals. Team members grow and move forward. Projects get finished.

Give clear direction
Coach Kill’s coaches and players know exactly what he expects. As a result the team is having fun and winning on the field. Off the field, the program that once lost scholarships for poor academic performance had an all-time academic progress rate of 994 for 2011-12, according to a post on, August 29, 2013.

Successful businesses also know that when given clear directions, team members will more likely participate and thrive. They will attend meetings and arrive on time. They will communicate with one another. They will perform up to set standards.

Build trust
Even though he’s not on the field because of his health condition, Coach Kill has built his team’s trust. He supports them individually and as a team. He has watched the games he hasn’t coached from the press box. He has joined his players for the team’s victory dances in the locker room. His players look up to him, they trust his decisions and as a result, they play as a cohesive unit.

Successful businesses, too, build trust among their employees. They acknowledge fears and worries. They treat their employees with respect. They communicate clearly and consider their employees’ opinions. Consequently, their employees trust their leaders and one another, open up to discussion and continue to communicate.

Here’s the bottom line. In a great teamwork environment, people think, plan, make decisions and act cooperatively. The recognize that alone they are not as good as “all of us together.” 

Take a page from Coach Kill and build a strong, “all-of-us-together” team for your organization.

Your Solution Toolbox: Help for Building and Managing Great Teams 

According to experts, successful teams need members who:

  1. Assertively take charge.
  2. Are outgoing, people-oriented and extroverted. 
  3. Show patience, tolerance and understanding.
  4. Focus on details, precision and accuracy.
  5. Show a desire to compete and win. 
  6. Reveal a positive attitude regarding people and outcomes. 
  7. Are easygoing and casual.
  8. Enjoy identifying and analyzing problems.
  9. Desire to meet deadlines and take action quickly. 
  10. Show emotions and share feelings. 
  11. Participate in the team and work well with others.
  12. Show concern for standards and a high quality of work.

How can you assure that your team includes members with these characteristics?

A sure approach is to use Profiles Team Analysis Reports from Profiles Performance Indicator™.

Profiles' Team Analysis Reports include

Having this information will help you build a united team. It will help you eliminate conflict, build cooperation, improve communication and put together a team that will deliver.

Profiles' Team Analysis
is simple to use. Each team member can complete the assessment in 15 minutes using an Internet connection or by writing responses in a booklet. A computer compiles the results and prints them in minutes.

If you would like to learn more about how you can build successful teams with Profiles Team Analysis and Profiles Performance Indicator™, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email  I'll happily show you what these two tools can do for you and your organization.


HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We’ll help you learn how to:

 • Understand your workers’ strengths, weaknesses and interests
 • Match people to job demands
 • Increase employee performance throughout your organization

Let's Talk! We offer a no-obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures and practices. This may help determine what's missing in your current programs. Again, call 952-322-3330 or send an email to

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