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How do you create a team culture that rewards unselfishness?

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How do you create a team culture that rewards unselfishness?

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Old 05-03-18, 07:26 AM
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Radish_legs
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How do you create a team culture that rewards unselfishness?

I can see how this would be easier at higher levels of racing, where riders know their strengths and weaknesses. And have a coach or director. And they have assigned roles. But even then, there will be guys champing at the bit to get their own results.

But when you are at the Cat 3 level, people have all kinds of personal agendas of what they want to achieve. "Why should I sacrifice my own results for someone else?" I've noticed some teams are more cohesive than others in terms of achieving team results. I've also noticed it tends to be the same people over and over who are unselfish, while others never put in a single pedal stroke to help a teammate. There is the argument I suppose that everyone going after their own results in their own way, can benefit others. For example, that solo attack that forced another team to chase. Or the breakaway attempts that failed. But that still leaves a team that is less than the sum of its parts. Obviously the most powerful helper is the person who is good enough to shape and change the race (easy for a spare rider to offer help, but probably not going to be there in the key moment), but also the person who is giving up the most. No upgrade points, no podiums.

Thoughts?
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Old 05-03-18, 08:03 AM
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If you are on a team, you are racing for the team. Not your own results. It's a simple as that.

You need to determine with your team before the race what the goal is. Do you want to try to get rider A the win? If so, everyone works for him. Is the goal to get rider B into a break? If so, rider B needs to get into a break, and the rest of the team needs to work to help that break succeed. If you want to leave it up to chance, that's fine, but once a team member gets into a position to win, the rest of the team abandons their individual goals and works to support that person.

If you do not want to race for the team goals, then you don't need to be on a team.

If you are looking to earn points to upgrade, you are often better racing alone than on a team, unless the team wants to get you upgraded.
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Old 05-03-18, 08:22 AM
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I think in our case, the goal is "let's try to win", "let's try to get someone on the podium." And the plan is not more specific than that. I've proposed having more specific plans, but I think most of the guys are comfortable just letting things "play out." I don't really the impression that the other teams are any more organized than we are. We have the largest, deepest team in this category at this crit. Getting people on the same page has been a challenge. There's no in-fighting or hard feelings. Maybe just a casual "this is just softball league racing for fun" attitude.
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Old 05-03-18, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Radish_legs View Post
I can see how this would be easier at higher levels of racing, where riders know their strengths and weaknesses.
It doesn't take a lot of training together to know the strengths and weaknesses of your team mates. Not sure this has anything to do with your race category.
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Old 05-03-18, 09:02 AM
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At the lower levels its a moving target. Everyone wants to upgrade, but there are guys that have a much better shot at winning. I believe everyone with decent form should have an 'A' race where they are the focus, but the best racer should be picked more often than not. That's more for the long term cohesion of the team though. At the end of the day the focus should be on winning.

Then there is also the issue of upgrades; if your best racer has points to upgrade do you move him up or have him help others get points?

I'm pretty much solo this year and this year the 3-4's is deeper with teams (Big Orange, Impact, SDBC, Allied, iRacing, etc.) than I remember in the past. It doesn't lend well to success if you're solo since at least 2 guys are covering you. 3 years ago maybe 1 team actually showed up to work together, now that's the norm. Next year I may jump to a team, but there really isn't one that stands out. The 5 of us that race are getting frustrated that our team has more or less evolved into an Ambassador program and 75% of the guys have no interest in racing.
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Old 05-03-18, 10:19 AM
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I have no clue how to build a cycling team culture.

The only team I've been a part of had a long history that was already well established, well known, and a feared/respected culture to begin with. My small team was a part of a bigger team and was as close to each other as we were to our families. That team was built over a few years and the larger group dynamic took hundreds of years of tradition and a bit of brainwashing to get to that level.

The best way to build a team (IMHO), is through shared adversity. Upgrade points? Well no ****, everyone wants those. Podiums? Everyone raises their hands.

Every shines when the sun is out.

But you want to see what kind of "team" you have? Make it hard. Make it impossible in fact. You'll find out who really wants it then, and you get a definitive answer to the teams hierarchy. Make it a shared goal and if you have the right personalities you'll gel. Very difficult to do if you only get together on a couple of days a week and sometime this guy is there, and some other guys only show once a month etc. You'd have to do some sort of "training camp" event. Away from distractions to really build any team camaraderie.

Shared misery build teams faster than glory, that is for sure. Sharing a tough time together, getting through it, coming out on the other side beaten, worn, and tired...but together. That's how you build a team.
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Old 05-03-18, 11:10 AM
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Liking each other, no egos, no drama is a great place to start. Already have that. But actually getting something more than the sum of the parts is the challenge.
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Old 05-03-18, 12:32 PM
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I don't think it matters in the 3s or 4s or 5s. I don't think it matters in many places in the 1/2s.

You're not getting paid, so do what you want. Its not a job and you're not a pro, so unless you've vocalized otherwise, there's not an expectation. If you want to help someone out, then do it. If not, don't and don't expect their help later.

That's my genuine feeling on the matter. I very much disagree that it's a "team" sport. Someone may take pride or whatever in being a part of something, but I don't liken it to an actual team event very much at all.
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Old 05-03-18, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I don't think it matters in the 3s or 4s or 5s. I don't think it matters in many places in the 1/2s.

You're not getting paid, so do what you want. Its not a job and you're not a pro, so unless you've vocalized otherwise, there's not an expectation. If you want to help someone out, then do it. If not, don't and don't expect their help later.

That's my genuine feeling on the matter. I very much disagree that it's a "team" sport. Someone may take pride or whatever in being a part of something, but I don't liken it to an actual team event very much at all.

This is a bad example, sure. It's only 6 guys. But, it could happen the same in any race given the opportunity and the chance the mix of racers allows.
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Old 05-03-18, 01:43 PM
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I don't get your point, or how it applies to my post.
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Old 05-03-18, 02:32 PM
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I know that at my level of racing, I can be a pretty effective leadout guy for a sprinter. But the question is whether I want to actually be that guy, and not race for myself. No one is asking me to be that guy. No one is offering to ever lead me out. If I race for myself, I do have a chance to be on the podium. I've experimented over the last 3 weeks to race as a good teammate and sacrifice myself for others, without caring about my own results. So it's an experiment in progress for me. I can't say that others are doing the same, but that's fine too. To each his own.
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Old 05-03-18, 03:25 PM
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And if you're doing that for a friend, then awesome. I've done the same myself a few times. And had it done for me, as well. I've even done it once for a friend that wasn't even a teammate!

But personally, I have no idea why you'd want to be the leadout guy when you can win yourself. Not on any sort of regular basis at least. Especially not three weeks in a row. I certainly wouldn't. Especially in a 4s or 3s race where it's almost certainly not going to matter, as a good sprinter is going to be up there regardless. If I were on an elite team with substantial provisions and support and all, and I came on to that team knowing that I'd be expected to serve a role, then that's one thing. But most things aren't that.
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Old 05-03-18, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I don't get your point, or how it applies to my post.
I'm guessing he was addressing this:
I very much disagree that it's a "team" sport
I would argue bike racing is kind of a hybrid team sport. You don't have to have a team like in baseball, but it can sure help.
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Old 05-03-18, 05:28 PM
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just ask guys if they enjoy whistletipping prior to inviting them on your team.

really the answer is to just race with people you consider friends. for the most part people will sacrifice for their friends. And still, even when we are doing that there will be reasonable disagreements among rational people. You work through it, like a marriage.
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Old 05-03-18, 08:07 PM
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We've only got a couple guys in the 3's who race together on a regular basis and we run things kind of along the lines Rubiksoval's post. We never enter a race with any real tactics and just kind of play it out for ourselves as it goes. Obviously intrinsic stuff like slowing the pack if one guy goes on a break or the occasional "hop on my wheel gesture" in the last few laps occurs but thats about it. It might be helpful if we worked together more but to be honest I've never really run into a cat 3 who is aggressive enough or willing to push me off their leadout train's wheel and no team is deep enough in the 3's to ride fast enough for long enough to stop people from moving up so I surf around and pick my spots and try to grab some points here and there. The 1's and 2's on the squad are certainly much more organized and I think its more important at that level.
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Old 05-03-18, 08:49 PM
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OP you answered your own question. Recruit guys who have a history of working well / sacrificing for teammates.
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Old 05-03-18, 09:20 PM
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For me I think it works best with riders that understand their own limitations. It's fun to maximize the use of your own abilities to overcome theoretically stronger individuals or even teams.

So, for example, in Cat 123 races I often find myself outclassed in the last few laps because I can only follow, not sprint. Therefore when I rode with a pretty cohesive Cat 123 squad, I was the sprinter tailgunner, last in line to prevent anyone from sitting on our sprinter's wheel. Because Cat 123 means mainly 1s and 2s at the end, it was pretty aggressive, and I eventually stopped because I didn't feel right doing the stuff I did to keep the sprinter's wheel clear. Plus he wasn't the best sprinter so even if I kept riders well off his wheel, they could pass him in the sprint. Not terribly inspiring.

For some reason I've had a lot of folks come up to me and offer to lead me out. I'm not sure why but it happens, even if the rider is on a different team. They're not necessarily "friends", like I've never hung out with them outside of cycling, but I think it had to do with me putting myself into promoting races. I really can't imagine any other reason random riders would help me out.

Think of what motivates you at, say, work. What makes a good boss, a good manager? Who inspires you? How do they do that? A good team usually needs such a rider, charismatic, able to lead without necessarily strutting their ego around. It's a delicate balance between bossing others around and being humble enough to do some of the grunt work.
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Old 05-04-18, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees View Post
OP you answered your own question. Recruit guys who have a history of working well / sacrificing for teammates.
Yeah, who you have on the team also is very important. When we created our team almost 10 years ago, we created a very extensive process for bringing on new people. Our rationale was that we would rather be super selective and make sure we were bringing on people who were good for the team rather than just opening it up and being stuck with people we don't like/don't fit in well and then have to kick them off.
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Old 05-04-18, 10:01 AM
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If you build a team of individuals that like each other, enjoy riding and socializing together, you'll naturally have a group that wants each other to succeed.

and let's be honest, most team tactics in amateur racing are: 1) someone get in the break; 2) don't chase team mates
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Old 05-04-18, 10:48 AM
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Race with your friends. None of us are making a living doing this, so we might as well do it with people we like.
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Old 05-04-18, 12:51 PM
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3 years ago we had the first* Cat 3/4/5 team that would have leadout trains and roles, and they won a lot. Now there are a few. When teams win a lot, guys just want to jump on for the prestige of the kit. Now that many race formats went from 4/5 to 3/4, the lower end is much more long term. There are less and less part time racers so everyone kind of knows where they are at. Guys that have been mid pack for years are more than happy to work for a racer that can win, and the guys that win don't want to upgrade and race the big names in p12. Its also gotten faster because its no longer every one for themselves. Its also crazy the amount of resources some of these teams have. RV's, Team vans, free kits, discounted bikes and equipment...and that's just at the lower levels.

Always being on teams with almost no teammates, I'm jealous af at some of these other teams. It frustrates me that we have a full race weekend (Redlands, Rosena Ranch) and 75% of our team prefer to do group rides instead. Considering Rosena registration is light (everyone wants to be fresh for Redlands) a podium sweep in the 4's could have been possible.

*I'm sure there were some before I started racing but during my time the 3-5's were everyone for themselves.
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Old 05-04-18, 05:11 PM
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Sharing in the prize money with those that helped earn it is a good place to start.

In amateur racing the money is not huge, but sharing with those that helped in earning it does build good will within a team.
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Old 05-04-18, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
just ask guys if they enjoy whistletipping prior to inviting them on your team.

really the answer is to just race with people you consider friends. for the most part people will sacrifice for their friends. And still, even when we are doing that there will be reasonable disagreements among rational people. You work through it, like a marriage.
Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Race with your friends. None of us are making a living doing this, so we might as well do it with people we like.
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Old 05-09-18, 10:35 AM
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Just to say it again and more clearly, the only way to have an unselfish culture is to race with unselfish guys. And that means probably very few sprinters!
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Old 05-09-18, 10:51 AM
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SDBC does a great job at all levels (1-5, junior, masters, women, even some para) nuturing team culture with off the bike events, like banquets, dinners, bbq's, hosting races and other volunteer activities. Having a 70+ year history and funding from 600+ club members and big sponsorship $$$ helps.

This does is create an environment where people become friends - more than just individuals wearing the same kit. It's a community that extends into the local racing scenes on road, mountain and track.

Personally I will remain SDBC as long as their remains participation in racing and a positive atmosphere, which doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. The club has managed to nurture a culture that extends beyond racing alone. Of course there are race and volunteer requirements to obtain the benefits that extend all the way down to cat 4's.
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