How to Freakishly Motivate Your FIRST Robotics Team
Creating an engaging, motivated, and driven FIRST Robotics team where all team members are task-oriented and focused on what they need to do is not always an easy thing to accomplish. In fact, it can be one of the most difficult things to achieve and maintain.
“Why are members getting off task easily?” you ask yourself. “Why are they not taking initiative unless prompted by a mentor?”
What’s the reasoning behind this lack of motivation and drive? Of course, there could be many explanations, and it depends on a per-team basis. However, one main reason could be this: Your FIRST Robotics team doesn’t communicate its WHY enough.
It Takes a WHY
Successful FIRST Robotics teams stand for something; They have a foundation of WHY and a belief system that is reinforced over and over into each student, mentor, and leader on the team. This gives their team purpose, drive to keep excelling, and willpower to complete their mission AND the mission of FIRST has set out to do.
What do I mean when I say communicate your team’s WHY and beliefs system? Think of the reason your FIRST Robotics team was initially started. Who started the team and for what purpose? Was it because the head coach had their daughter or son who wanted to be on a team so they decided to make their own? Was it because a business owner want to develop student leaders in the community? WHY did you FIRST Robotics team start in the first place?
Finding out the reason your team started is critical to understanding your team’s actions right now. If your team has no idea WHY it’s competing or WHY it meets each week, it explains the lack of motivation and drive from your team members.
The Motivating Factor: The WHY Statement
The best way to motivate your team and ultimately become successful in the future is to establish a foundation of WHY. You can do that by creating a WHY statement.
A WHY statement is a brief and singular statement that only encompasses one or two major goals for the team’s existence. More than two will cloud the vision and be much harder to obtain. For example, your FIRST Robotics team’s WHY statement could be, “To excited our community about STEM AND develop respected student leaders.” These are two separate clauses that are combined to make one statement. Or, it could just be one statement: “To learn new skills for the future.” Whatever it is, it needs to be specific, goal oriented, and obtainable. Don’t make it complicated or confusing; The goal is to make it understandable so everyone gets it and repeats it.
Here are some other examples of what a FIRST Robotics team’s WHY statement could look like:
To have fun and enjoy building relationships
To inspire students to become science and technology leaders
To be professional in all that we do and say and produce high-quality work
To maximize the potential in each student so they can become well-rounded individuals
To compete at a high-level and inspire others to believe in themselves
A team’s WHY statement can also reflect FIRST’s Mission. In no way should it copy or replicate their exact values or goals, but it can support it. Ultimately, your FIRST Robotics team should have a unique and clear driving purpose that every student, mentor, and parent can be unified with. Yet, paired with FIRST’s Mission, it can work in tandem with changing the world, maximizing student’s full potential, or bettering the community.
Implementation of the WHY
When creating your WHY statement, it is imperative that only the leadership team (head coach, lead mentor, or team captain) develops the final WHY statement and objectives. A successful FIRST team is where the leadership team has a tight grip on wheel of the ship, directing the path, as everyone else is hoisting the sales and rowing toward one unified direction. If not for the leadership’s direction, having too many individual’s opinions could easily mislead the team and create a confusing and clouded mindset that will take over, leading the team in the wrong direction.
After creating your team’s WHY statement, we suggest holding 1-2 initial team meetings that redefine the team’s existence and educate the team on its newly-founded purpose.
It’s essential to have these meetings to set a clear team direction. If done well — with passion, excitement, and forethought from the leadership team— your FIRST team will change from an apathetic, indifferent, and ordinary group to a motivated, driven, and inspired set of hardworking individuals who care about what they do and stay on task.