10,000 Repetitions

Published: October 24, 2016

What competency do you wish to master? Life is short. It takes a significant commitment to specialize. Beyond baseline talent and the gift of opportunity, mastery requires repetition. By most standards, practicing a skill 10,000 times elevates it to a new level. Martial artists know this as they deliver dozens of kicks, punches, and self-defense maneuvers to their daily workout routines. Musicians know this as they pound out scales in every key signature. Writers only get better by writing. So what about mastering relationships? Perhaps every organization should have a team expert. How might this happen?

Team experts are usually found in Human Resources departments. They build their competence each time they navigate an employee relations situation. They understand workflow and the value of collaboration. They manage countless transitions as employees enter and exit the workplace. They immerse new teammates in organizational culture and assist departing teammates in saving face and landing softly. These are the most traditional team experts.

The new breed of team expert gets trained and certified in the nuances of team dynamics. They can assess the degree of team alignment with mission and values. They can sponsor constructive conflict. They model respect and accountability by empowering workplace norms that encourage healthy connection and communication. They push smart risks and handle the resulting change with poise and adaptability. They understand the cyclical nature of teams and can coach leaders through these transitions.

Who is the team expert in your organization? Not every workplace can boast this skill set in their talent pool. There’s no need to post a job opening if this competitive advantage is not present in your professional peer group. Simply identify the colleague who is best positioned to become the organization’s team expert and surround him or her with the resources and experiences needed to become competent. There are plenty of team effectiveness training and certification programs available.

10,000 repetitions happen pretty fast when you are the steward of effective teaming.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.