FAHA: Deserving your role?

Ever have a member on your team who is really good at what they do, but not exactly a team player? How do you choose between someone who can work well with the team and someone who can drive the robot really well and carry the team into finals? Its not always easy to decide, is it? Let’s take a look at this fellow FIRST-a-holic’s situation and help him/her decide what the best course of action is!

Alright, lemme give you some background. All year there has been one kid on my team who nobody really liked for his attitude. He did a lot of work but always complained about it and would then continue to complain about others not doing as much work as him. Anyways when tryouts came around he ended up winning the position of operator he wanted to and did perfectly fine at regionals enough for the team to seed in the top 8 anyways and with nothing major going wrong on his aprt. However, now at the last team meeting there was talk of replacing him with the runner-up from tryouts for nationals because they say the runner-up would do a better job at it even though nothing really went wrong. However there are doubts whether the people wanting this change really want it for the team’s best thoughts or if it is for some personal grudge or resentment towards the student over his actions during build season (most of the kids pushing for it were personally pointed out by him during build). Do you think it is even conceivable to mess up the drive team right before Nationals having the current driveteam done so fine over regionals and gotten their pattern of communication and actions down?

take out the person who has one or more regionals worth the experiece driving, and put someone else in there?

for ‘political’ reasons?!

that would be the worse thing you could possibly do

if his attitude is the problem you need to find ways to HELP him improve his attitude

if his driving has been a problem (you said its not) then find ways to improve his driving

if you had someone who was really good at working on the bot, someone in your pit crew, would you tell him he cant touch the bot anymore because of interpersonal problems?

work on the problems, dont punish people by not allowing them to do what they do best.

personally the drive team that has the most experience is the one I will always want out on the field. It is not unheard of to have backup drivers, but I am going to almost always (barring some extremely significant circumstances) going to go with the drive team with more experience…

I think the question you should ask yourself is whether a FIRST team can include a person who won’t let it be a team.
We have someone on our team who tried almost the same thing–he wouldn’t stay for the meetings, he took over projects and never finished them, didn’t show up for fundraising events, and he tried out for the operator position this year.
The only way we could end up solving the problem was by choosing another driver who had just as much skill. The slacker wasn’t happy about it, but in the end we did well–but that’s not thepoint.
The point of the story is it doesn’t matter how well you do at the competitions. It doesn’t matter who gets to drive, or who gets to throw the balls. It doesn’t even matter who hangs out in the pits all day. What matters isn’t the desination, it’s the trip. FIRST isn’t about single people doing things on their own just so they can win. FIRST is about working together to meet at a common goal, and maybe learn something along the way.

You know I think this is an advisors call on this…Our team is highly democratic but the advisor for the team does step in and make a call on this one. If it were me, if you have two drivers that are trained and good…go with the one that put in the most time…chances are he will be able to fix the robot best in the case it breaks on the field (elim. rounds.). The reason i say this is because i think driver is an earned spot. Its not a position for someone whos put in 20 hours of work should have. Its a position for someone who devotes lots of time into. They would care what happens on the field (stemming from the actually having their blood on it deal) more than the person who hasn’t.

Thats just my personal feeling


First off, was this last team meeting held in the open, does this student know that this was discussed?

I feel that the student should have been talked to by the mentors earlier in the build season about his/her attitude. This should be done privately and with some coaching to help curb this behavior. Now that the season is almost done the damage has been done as evidenced by the team meeting.

As far as his/her role at the Championship… Team roles that are chosen by trials and team decisions should be stuck with unless there are compelling reasons not to. Arbitrary decisions lead to long term issues. Honesty and consistency is what builds a strong team. It is difficult to pull someone from a job they have been performing well in and expecting morale not to be affected.

It all depends, and I think the coaches know best. Lets say the operator did an excellent job, but against the wishes of the drive team coach and the engineers, and the way he did things were totally his own. Then the coaches might not agree. Engineers might have reasons such as his way damages/leads to damaging the robot. Coaches might have reasons such as they are much more experienced and know better(If the kid does not follow the strategy planned, and does only what he likes, not with totally good drive team experience).

   However, if that is not the case, the kid definately deserves to be the operator. If it is something like the coaches or engineersdont like him for personal reasons, then its definately very wrong to kick a person out of the drive team. 

I know I took the focus out of students for a little bit over there, but I am just looking at the situation from the coahces point of view.

If I read correctly, it sounds like the student has simply a bit of an attitude problem, but was as much of a contributor to the team effort as anyone else.

It’ll come down to a personal call of some sort, but I don’t think it sounds like there’s reason to change the drive team simply because team members don’t like the person.

Our team worked with two drive teams, and there were obvious differences in levels of skill and experience between them, but we did it because we have a small team. You have a single drive team with a proven track record - go with it, and work out the interpersonal kinks on the side.

I think there’s a major choice that needs to be made before you can answer whether or not to replace the student. Do students deserve their roles, or do they earn them?

I personally would say that he earned his place as operator, and that his “attitude” doesn’t seem to be harming anything except the way people think of him. If there’s no problem with his performance, I don’t see any reason to replace him. But I believe you should let him know that his attitude is causing people to resent him, and give him guidance on not only what to change, but how to change it.

Well, don’t take the driving team apart now. They’ve done fine. But caution the kid for next year. Try talking to him/her. You never know, it might just work. Often times people don’t truely realize what they’re doing is wrong until someone points it out and tells them with a sympathetic point of view. I’m probably not much help, let us know how the situation worked out please! thanks!

FIRST isnt about getting what you deserve

FIRST is about other people seeing potential in us - and giving us an opportunity that we could never have earned on our own

personally I hope I never get what I deserve - what I want most is forgiveness and understanding

cause nobodys perfect - we all have our weaknesses and shortcomings

some peoples imperfections stand out more than others

but we are all human.

Also who is to say that if you don’t replace him that at a critical point on the field he won’t go off on an alliance partner for not being able to do something as efficient as they said they could. If this was to happen it might put a negative mark beside your team and you might not get picked for the elimination rounds or at a future competition.

I personally can’t read this one but can speak from experience. We had a coach and a arm operator who didn’t get particularly get along. The coach was overbearing at times and always wanted everything his way and would get mad at the drivers and the arm operator would take offense to this and hold a grudge of sorts. I remember one particular practice where everything broke down between them and they were near fighting on the field. As the HP it was obviously my job to mediate so I stepped in. I revoked the name coach and renamed him our lead strategist. I went into the speech about how we are a team and need to work as a team to be successful. That this isn’t a sport where the coach tells what to do and the team goes out and does exactly what he says but were we work as team to make the decision that help us win. I also had to talk to the arm operator to get him to get him to take less offense from what the other person does and let him know that to be a successful team he needs to put in the effort to communicate his opinions of what will work and not let the other person take over and then hold a grudge against them. That he will have to let go of the grudge to compete. You can not like a person and work with them.

That is my recommendations. Mediate between them. The one holding grudges need to realize that they might not be working as hard as they can or communicating as well as they can. Let them know it is just one of the challenge of the game. Do you think in business everyone likes who they work with? No, if a person does a good and get the job done they are possibly to work with. And the one with the attitude needs to be taught teamwork. Change him to a “navigation specialist” and make one of the requirement to effectively communicate and work together within a team. If your team is divide it will fall to pieces when things get tough.

I think that this situation needs to be handled in a very delicate manner. I think first and foremost you have to realize that this person is just a student and not an advisor. High school students sometimes tend to not view everything as objectively as an advisor. I say this from first hand experience as I am a college mentor on team 461. If a student is feeling distant and has an attitude problem, it is your job as the mentor to take them aside, and one on one try and discuss and figure out why that student feels the way he/she does and how best you can aide to change that. This is what has worked for me: I am very upfront with our hs students. If they have an issue that effects the team, or even themselves, I take them a side and talk to them in a very NON-confrontational manner. You have to be calm and understanding.

Now, as far as changing the driver goes…I would not change the driver rigth before nationals. Unless the driver is doing something very wrong, which according to what you said is not happening, then don’t change your driver. The practice rounds, regionals etc gives the driver tremendous amounts of experience and insight that quite honestly, can only be absorbed through participating in those events. You should sit down with the specific group of students that said to remove this person from this position and ask them specifically why. Ask them to give you specific reasons as to fundamental mistakes that student has made as a driver. If these can not be produced, then it makes no sense the change the driver. If that is the case, you need to explain this to the group of students. Maybe see why the don’t “like” him/her. Try and make them understand where this student is coming from and why they are the way they are. Just take the time to understand the issues of discontent between the two parties, and address them to one and other.

Remember, you are an advisor. You don’t just help these students build a robot, you help them build their lives. You aid in their development as a person, everything from technical skills to personal skills. If a student has an issue, be their friend, their mentor, sit down and help them work through it, that’s why you are there. Invest the time and effort into getting to know them and understanding them. Invest the time in bringing the team closer together, even if it’s just one student who is not fully “team oriented”. It will make a difference in these students lives and the dynamics of the team.

We don’t have tryouts for the field roles, they are discussed and aggreed among the adult leaders. Why -

There is more to being part of the field team than just driving the robot or hitting shots - the students on the field need to be quick to think, understand the strategy for each match, be able to quickly adapt, and be able to quickly earn the respect and trust of their alliance partners. If necessary, I would sacrifice a bit of mechanical skill for the other ‘leadership’ type of qualities needed in a match.

I also believe the four on the field need to be able to work as a team and help each other. Again, that might mean the four most ‘talented’ people are not there - but the four that combine to make the best team are.