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Defining Core Values as a Team

Up until a few years ago, Randy Jackson, Head Football Coach and Athletic Coordinator at North Forney (Texas) High School, thought establishing a team culture was a lot like teaching the X's and O's. You told players what you expected and taught them how to do it.

However, he’s recently made an adjustment to this system. He still spends time—a lot of time—teaching players how to live the cultural expectations of the program. But first he asks the players what those expectations should be.

In a blog entry on his website “The Culture Factory,” Jackson writes “Before 2015 I had some words on locker tags, backs of t-shirts, etc. that “I” thought were our core values. They didn’t mean ANYTHING to our team so they were worthless. Take your time and get it right.”

He also lays out the core values of his program:

* Juice and Tempo

* Compete

* Blue Collar Tough

* Family

* Discipline

* Finish

* Pay Day

More interesting is the way he decided on those specific core values for the team. The process began by introducing players to words and concepts that were important to the coaching staff.

After about three weeks of talking to the players about these words and concepts, he then asks players to submit five words they think are important.

The coaching staff goes through the responses, grouping similar concepts into one word. For example, family, brotherhood, servants would be grouped together under family. The top responses then become the core values for the team.

He then introduces one concept a week on a Monday. Other coaches would address that same concept with the team on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then on Friday, the team and coach would define the value. For example, the definition for “Juice and Tempo” was “If you are juiceful you are useful. Falcon Fast is maniacal effort that makes their butts quit.”

While some coaches may be wary of having players set the tone in this way, but Jackson says that’s not what he’s doing. “You and your staff will be able to guide them to end up with the core values and credo you want,” he writes, “but they must feel like they were a big part of creating it. What you are in on you are in with.”

He also explains his strategy for continuing to teaching them to his players throughout the year, emphasizing one core value each day of the week and using specific exercises to drive the values home. For example, he teaches players about family by having them take a picture with their favorite teacher and then posting those images in the team’s group text app. One of tools for teaching toughness is having the players complete three 200-meter runs with three minutes rest in between.

He also suggests that coaches think about their own core values before beginning this type of effort. “Take some time to think about your three core values so you will know where you want to grow the most,” he writes. “Don’t spend weeks developing core values for your group without analyzing yourself also.”

Click here to read the full article.

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