15 Tips for First-Time Team Managers

By: Tina Shaffer

As a Destination Imagination Team Manager, you’ll have the opportunity to watch as your team members step out of their comfort zones, learn from failure, enjoy fits of laughter and bring their ideas to life. However, when starting out as a Team Manager for the first time, the process can seem a little overwhelming. Resources such as Roadmap, Rules of the Road and our Team Manager Tips blog series are designed to help guide you through the experience. It’s also important to reach out to your Affiliate to find out about trainings and additional resources. Hear from some of our veteran Team Managers on how to make this the best, life-enriching experience for both you and your team members:

  1. “Remember, it’s the team’s Challenge. It’s okay to ask questions, but don’t give them solutions.” – Carrie T.
  2. “Work the schedule backward to ensure you have enough time for everything and it’s not left to the last minute. Enjoy the moments along the path… you’ll see your children in a whole new light.” – Tracey K.
  3. “Practice Instant Challenges every time you meet, even if you just revisit one your team has done before.” – Amanda M.
  4. “Trust the process. The kids will learn as they make mistakes.” – Julie C.
  5. “Make sure the kids know they have to clean up before they leave! Make them set their own goals and write them down so they can see them every meeting.” – Christine N.
  6. “Always go over a task upon completion. Talk it out. Help them to come to their own conclusions by training them to look outside the box for answers/solutions.” – Katrina H.
  7. “Take advantage of training sessions and talking to experienced Team Managers. Also, find out what resources your Affiliate has for you.” – Jason F.
  8. “Make sure they understand exactly where all the possible scoring is coming from in their main Challenge and have something in their performance that addresses them to maximize their chances to earn every possible point. I’ve seen good teams in the past just let easy points go because they didn’t even address them.” – Leslie M.
  9. “If you are a parent Team Manager, be sure to ask other team parents to get involved through preparing Instant Challenges, hosting prop building meetings, planning fundraisers, hosting fun team-building dinner/event, buying snacks, buying/cooking meal for longer meetings, etc.” – Rachel M.
  10. “Remember it’s not YOUR project. Let them fail and guide them to brainstorm other options that just might work… or not! Be okay with their failure.” – Roxann H.
  11. “Make sure to have bonding practices, like going out to eat or to events. This may seem like it will take too much time given how much work they need to do, but it will make a world of difference to their teamwork.” – Marie F.
  12. “Have the kids write lists of general supplies they need—tape, glue, scissors, box cutters, electric drills, etc. Then have them write lists of supplies they need to create their solution. If they get stuck, take them to home improvement or craft store and let them brainstorm at the store for solutions. Let them take care of and store their own props during the season; they will learn what’s fragile really quickly. This is important for knowing what needs special handling so you’re not fixing things on tournament day. Have fun! It’s an awesome experience!” – Melissa S.
  13. “Patience, patience and more patience. Make your team write out their goals. If you see them going off track, ask them to take a look at the goals and ask if what they are doing right now will help or hurt reaching their goals.” – Kirk A.
  14. “When things are falling apart, it’s snack time. This may be the best thing that happens in their school years because they can do it themselves. My first year, a great Team Manager told me ‘a successful year is when they want to do it next year.’ He was right. Here I am, 18 years later, still in DI.” – Pam H.
  15. “Always be positive about their progress, no matter how little, but never let them lose sight of their goals and potential. They limit themselves. Be their cheerleader for exploring beyond their comfort zone.” – Alison M.