How do you organize your team?


Lately our team has been a whole mess, due to many reasons. We’ve managed to organize a leadership system – one main leader and two sub-leaders. Now, I’m not a leader, but our leader isn’t on CD so: as the kick-off day inches closer and closer, our team has been panicing over fundraising enough money to pay for our second regional and for the build season, as well as trying to organize the sub-groups, and so forth.

Basically, the problem is that no one wants to cooperate or do any fundraising “work.” Our sub-leaders don’t do anything, whether they’re ordered or not, and when they go to the meetings, they basically act like they know what they’re saying by reiterating what our leader or mentors say. Add to that, when they do agree to do something, they usually forget about doing it the next day, and when the next meeting comes around, they come empty-handed.
Our team is open to anyone to join, even those from local schools who don’t have a robotics team, in result we have a pretty large team. Of the entire team, there are only about 4 people who actually work, while the rest just sit around. Of those four people, they are: the leader, a senior who has just joined the team, an 8th grader who’s brother is on the team, and myself.
Just like the sub-leaders, they are assigned a task, and usually forget about it. And might I add, trying to persuade them to accept a job isn’t very easy. After some force, most people agree, except for one person, who basically “ruins everything.” Our leader hates him because he refuses to do any work, he simply ignores anything assigned to him. He also acts like he knows everything on the robot (even though he’s a rookie), and usually manages to break A LOT of things.
Now, I’m not saying its that bad, people do step up and volunteer to do work, the problem is that there isn’t enough of it. What’s even worse is that because we are a team, for those four people who actually do something, they’ll have to suffer the consequenses due to the lazyness of the rest of the team.
Lastly, our team meetings go something like this: meeting begins, one point is mentioned, mentors talk for 50% of the meeting, everyone argues for another 40% of the meeting, then the last 10% is dead silence when we ask for volunteers to fundraise.

What I’m asking is, has this happened to your team? How do you solve it?
Or even better: how do you motivate the rest of the team?


We really haven’t had that serous of a problem like you have but here is what we do. All members have to have at least a total of 30 Community Service and 30 Fundraising hours to participate during the build season. Then during the build season they have to have a total of at least 80 hours to go to Regional and Nationals

We call community service is spreading the word of FIRST. For example: parades, presentation to Boy Scout troops, demonstrations at the library, mentoring lego teams

Fundraising hours is explains it self. Brat Sales, Spaghetti Dinner, and Concession stand at local events

Many teams explain all this in a handbook.
Many links to examples to handbooks can be found here and here

First, you need to take care of this before the season begins because your team is rotting from the inside out.
You need to make members accountable for their actions and earn their keep. If they want to travel, they need to get to work and help the team otherwise keep walking.
Weed out undesirables who place themselves before the team and you need a more stringent interview process of who is and who is not allowed on your team. Just taking anyone who shows up at your door sets you up for allowing people who put your team in it’s current state.
You may need to revamp your leadership team. It sounds like they are not looking out for what is best for the team. At the very least they should be made aware that you are not satisfied with the direction the team is heading.
Lastly, you need to make your teammates take fund raising seriously. Make it part of the qualification process to travel (we do). We have a star chart that kids are held to strictly for the right to travel and we make sure they know from the get go how serious it is. You need this on your team. If they don’t like it, too bad. FIRST is fun but it is also work and discipline is required to maintain order on a team. Without chaos rules and the team could fall apart. Just remember your team’s future is at stake so you need to implement changes to secure your teams future.
Good luck.

Have your team advisor or mentor(s) discussed any of this with them? Because they obviously are not being too good of sub-leaders if they don’t set an example for your team. I would recommend your advisor and mentors to just have a discussion with them, try to get them into this whole thing.

I think that maybe your advisor should have a whole big team discussion as well. Maybe all this team really needs is to see how important it is to get things going and work hard for this. They need to know that you cannot just stop working after build season is over. You have to keep going and get more fundraising so you can be safe when it comes to registration, build season, regionals, championship, etc. It’s not just “oh since build season is finally over I don’t have to work anymore.” That’s completely false, and they need to see that and get moving.

Someone needs to talk to this kid. He bothers me even though I’m not even close to your team. We’ve had a person like that, and he’s shaped up a bit. He needs a talking-to, and fast. If he does break something, just tell him to kindly steer clear if he doesn’t know what he’s doing, or just to be careful. I wouldn’t want to go down to the point of kicking him off the team, but if that’s one of the only ways of getting him straight, then tell him if he doesn’t shape up, then he will not be tolerated.

As for the first questions, Yes this has indeed happened to Team 007. It is quite difficult to get people into doing more work, especially since everyone is trying to get their schoolwork done and such. It’s actually not going too badly right now, because all team members have to do is get a name of a correspondent for a business, an address and a telephone number. The president or advisor makes up a packet to send to the business, and if we don’t hear back from them for a week or so, we call them. That pretty much is how we solved our problems for fundraising, since our team is quite difficult to get motivated. Though we are beginning to get a little bit more motivated.
Motivating the rest of the team is tough, I will not deny that. Especially when you’re the only extrovert on the team (Me in 2004). I would recommend, as I mentioned before, a talking-to, and if that doesn’t work, start setting boundaries. And if someone’s assigned a job to do over a weekend, call them up and see if they’ve done it or remind them, or drop an email to see if they need help (or just hint with that email that you’re reminding them ;)) In school, just talk to them about what they’re doing and see what progress they’re making. If the progress is none at all, just let them know the team is counting on that person and that they hope the person gets the job done for them. If they don’t do their part, it’s more work for everyone else. Reiterate tons of times this is a team effort. Nothing more, nothing less.
Good luck!! I hope things get better for your team. let me know!

Wow. I’m going to have to agree with Koko Ed, if you’re team can’t support itself before you even start the season, there will be HUGE problems. Team 1418 has neither assigned nor delegated tasks for anything. While this may not work for larger teams, we have made it through the best and the worst together. If we were in trouble for fundrasing, we all got our butts up and started begging for money. As for who’s doing certain tasks (pnumatics, drive train, etc.), it just kind of happens. We laugh, joke and sure, argue about the dumbest things. But we’re happy doing this and we love what we do. We’re not here to just build robots and compete compete compete. Service hours and other systems for participation that inhibit the true spirit of the competition are not required. We love what we do, we love FIRST, and we all have this in common. That, in my opinion, is what makes a true FIRST team.

It sounds like your team is too large. Don’t get me wrong, there are several huge teams that make it by just fine but in your case your team might benefit by reducing its size. Your team seems too open to membership and thus you are getting students who are not of benefit to your team. If the students are really not interested in being there, don’t let them come anymore. The interested and motivated students should not be slowed down by slackers.

On my team, we have a quite lengthy and difficult application and selection process. First, everyone is our school is invited to participate in an engineering contest, such as building a mousetrap car or catapult and whoever’s goes the furthest wins. Then, the top few contenders (or students who show much interest and potential) from that are invited to apply to be on the team. Applicants have to make a resume, get a letter of recommendation, and a few other teams. Last, students may not participate in robotics if they have a D or F in any class.

While this may seem too difficult and seem like it is excluding some people, it has worked great for us. This year, our team has the best members ever becasue we picked them well.

And just for statistics sake, our team is approximately 17 students out of a high school of 1100.

As team president, whenever I see a teammate during school who is working on a task I ask for an update. A few seconds can tell you if they are making progress or not. And if they forget it is a quick reminder. Usually once or twice a week works great.
A lot of your problems seem to come from too many people sitting around. Some suggest “weeding” :eek:, you might try giving them something to do like learn Inventor :wink: . A team can never have too many people know basic skills.


I’m happy beyond belief that someone started this thread, thank you so much NoodleKnight for bringing this to light. After having over a dozen very commited, highly motivated seniors graduate last year, we began passing out applications like mad. We began accepting kids and, quite quickly, our team jumped up to 45 kids (in a school of 1500, i suppose thats fairly selective, considering that we had about 30 returning members) However, many of these students are underclassmen and we too have been having a heck of a time trying to stress the importance of attendance at meetings and workshops and assistance in fundraising.

What we have done so far is made an attendance chart for “pre-build-season” meetings to see just how many kids are committed to a relatively short information meeting every monday after school. From here, we usually can determine at a glance which students, unless excused, are really noncommittal. We also keep a less formal tally of fundraising work and volunteer work. Finally, to figure out who will get to attend the kickoff, a worksheet composed of various questions from,, and our own website must be turned in to our team leader one month before the kickoff.

Sadly, we have the same 10-12 student posse that dutifully shows up for everything. We have made it known that kids who do not assist with these pre-season activites will not have an open shot at going to a regional (or if possible, national) event.

Obviously, dealing with team dynamics is always tricky. Be persistent, be firm, and be sure that you can demonstrate to your team the vast rewards of participating in FIRST. Best of luck to y’all!

Thanks for your help guys.

The problem with being a team made up of two schools is that you can’t remind those people who are at the other school. Woodside High school was the original school, but oddly enough, two of the leaders come from Carlmont High school.

For a long time we’ve always accepted all those who show interest in robotics, and usually time will weed out those who can’t dedicate themselves to this kind of work and usually, our team boils down to around 20 members. And about that one kid, we’ve tried many things to try and fix him up, but it never works, he’s just to stuck-up. What’s worse is that we can’t kick people off the team, we have to “ask” them to leave, indirectly. And frankly, he’s just too stupid to realise that he isn’t wanted on the team.

The idea of having a required amount of service hours and fundraising hours seems like a good idea, but how would you prove if the person was lying or not? Also, we kind of try and stay away from giving out tests and all, robotics is supposed to be fun, not another event where you have to worry about tests. The attendence/star-chart idea seems really good, every meeting we take attendance but never use the attendence records for anything.

Eventually the team does resolve its problems, but only when we’re extremely short on time. We try to motivate the team to be proactive, but they usually don’t care until its one week before build season, or even robot ship date. I know the team is capable of doing great things, its just that they lack motivation, even during the mid-build season, people just rush through their work doing a really poor quality job.

Again, thanks for the help guys, we’ve never had to revert to threats to drive the team forward, but after loosing all of our seniors during 2003-2004, these new rookies act like they know everything and don’t have to do anything. Our multiple attempts to motivate them isn’t quite working, maybe selecting those to go get to work on the robot and go to the competitions will.

Exactly my thoughts!!

My team is having trouble getting organized too. since last year we were rookies there still arent many people on our team, and those who are on it are indeed interested in robotics. but we’re not reali sure how to organize ourselves, and have an official leader or something. as of now we’re split into 4 or 5 groups to work on programming, pneumatics, etc, so that we actually have some idea what we’re doing during build period. the whole idea was to educate ourselves, and its been working out fine in our groups of 3 or 4. but when we go have a whole ‘group meeting’ everyone’s suddenly, i guess, shy or something, and no one volunteers to do anything. i suppose when build period comes, they will, but what if they dont?

also how do the hierarchy of your teams go?
our rookie year last year, we never reali had anything, cept teachers, parents and alumni at the top obviously, and then we had one official student leader, and then everyone else underneath.

but not only is the job of leading us way too much for one student leader, our team has increased in size by about 50% (yay! we actually have members… but what to do w/ em…) so how would you suggest our team be lead?

thanks! :confused:

<edit> also, last year we seeded 11th in our regional (SVR) and got ourselves into the semifinals as alliance leaders. then in the cal games, which WRRF hosts here, we placed 1st with our allies (who picked us). the returning members from last year (including me) are worried what will happen when we do do poorly. it will be quite the shock because we’ve just gotten reali lucky. :ahh: </edit>

There are 54 White Papers about team orginaization including from National Chairman’s Award winners (including us). There should be information that you can use. Read as many of them as you can and put them to use for what you can do for your team. That’s why they are there.

Normally we’d create sub-groups (drivetrain, mechanics, electronics, programming, etc…) which usually turn out ineffective, people limit themselves by their capabilities, which could be one reason why we have so many organization problems, because one person keeps jumping from one group to another, changing things around and so forth. Ideally, if you are going to have sub-groups, split them up into: mechanical, electrical, and programming, plus any other additional ones that you might want (like animation, chairmans).

Don’t worry about it, FIRST all isn’t about winning, there’s much more to it. Our team has been around since 1995 and we don’t always get an award every year.

In our 14 years of existence we’ve never won a regional. It hasn’t caused us to fall apart yet. Don’t let your trophy case dictate your level of commitment.

i guess more of what i meant was that after being so lucky not everyone realizes how much it was purely luck, and when we dont win it’ll be such a shocker cuz thats never happened before.

I would highly recommend you check out Team 25’s Handbook. It is derived from Chiefdelphis handbook so check that out too. A lot of teams go through what you are going through, its hard, but very very possible to get the things right in the team. We let anyone join the robotics “club” freely but we have certain rules to be on the team.

Criteria for Membership on Raider Robotix Team

  1. Members must maintain academic eligibility as per school policy-

Periodically through the year the roster will be checked with the main office for compliance. Positive learning habits are related to study skills, classroom assignments, grades, classroom / school involvement. A student’s current grades and past achievements are powerful statements about his or her learning habits.

Dropping grades and failure to meet eligibility requirements may jeopardize your spot on the team. All Team members will be expected to maintain at least a C+ average in all courses. Any Team member that falls behind in their studies will not be allowed to travel with the team until their grades are once again at or above a C+.

  1. **Members must fund raise a minimum of $300 for their travel expenses - **
    Fund raising activities occur throughout the year and include shirt sales, car washes, events and others. Each member will have an individual team account to keep track of their fund raising.
  1. Members must perform a minimal 10 hrs of community service before January 1. -
    This service must be approved and registered with the CS director. The director will keep a log book of all community service for members. Community service is defined as activities performed without pay for the good of others in the school or community.
  1. Members must attend the Wednesday meetings and Team Functions-
    Attendance and punctuality are indicators of a students commitment to their education and future. A team member needs to be available and ready to participate as much as possible. When asked to participate, establishing a record of dependability and punctuality is essential to team organization and efficiency.
  1. Parents of members are expected to participate in team activities and help in team operations
  1. Members will take a course or workshop related to robotics per committee approval- either curricular or extra curricular – **
    Most important of these is the shop safety orientation. No member can participate in shop or pit activities without taking this orientation
  1. **Demonstration of Appropriate Behavior- **
    The Raider Robotix Team is a unique team of students and adults. We all rely on each other for the success of the group. Everyone is expected to bring the best of their abilities to the group. The competition each year is both expensive and time consuming and it is expected that all involved will behave as motivated young adults with the greatest regard for others and integrity.


  1. **Consistent Demonstration of Good Judgment and Positive Behavior: **
    Each team member is an ambassador of our team. Team members need to be role models for other students to emulate and respect. Solid behavior choices should to be demonstrated at all times, in and out of school activities.



  1. Ability to Commit to a Project: **
    Starting a project and following it through to the end is critical to team performance. Team members need to dedicate themselves and not to get side tracked or discouraged. Your word is very important.
    Don’t take responsibility you can’t perform and ask for help if you are having problems with a project. There is no excuse for a broken promise in this project.**



  1. **Ability to Work Both Independently and as a Team Member: **
    Being able to be a team player, doing what is needed for the team is an asset to all. However, working independently with little or no direction shows dedication and willingness to learn.



  1. **Interest in Science, Technology, Robotics and Related Fields: **
    The team member needs to have an genuine interest and a overall goal related to these fields of study. Activities, classes and career choices demonstrate this.



  1. **Demonstration of Honesty and Integrity: **
    Honesty and integrity are looked upon as important attributes of a quality person.



  1. **Time to Spend on Activities: **
    This team requires many hours of a student’s free time. Careful planning and scheduling may be required to stay actively involved. In some cases, choices as to other activities may need to be made.


That will solve majority of your problems as long as you have a strong team leadership. We arrange our team into sub-groups and assign leaders. Just because they are assigned as a leader it doesn’t mean they are the “real” leader. In the end, the members who put in real efforts and time into things are the ones you are the indirect leaders. The good thing about our team is our Coach, Wayne Cokeley does not limit the kids into anything, very few restrictions(as long as they’re decent), so the team is highly productive. If you team head coach puts the leadership power in the hands of the right people, your team will be saved, even with the very little time that you have.

Regarding the problem with that kid that you have, if its real serious, your best bet is to not let him travel. You don’t want someone on the airport to go yelling “I am not a terrorist, I am just a part of a robotics team” for no reason. In short, its a question of safety more than anything else. If you look at our handbook we are really focusing on good behavior in the team. For you its a question of safety, for us its a question of team reputation. Get your team right and if you need help post along…

kick people off the team

kick people off the team

NO, kicking is unjust and unfair. besides, they have needed talent.

Good thing is, this year we have added some new blood to our team.(such as myself) We are learning how to cooperate and to get along and this has influenced many of our senior members as well.

i disagree with you. i do think though that to kick people off the team you have to have preset qualifications. for example, you might say each team member must make $500 to go towards enterring competitions, going to competitions, etc. They either have to make it through fundraising or pay out of pocket. If they won’t do either, theyre off the team.

regardless of someone’s talent, its unjust and unfair for those who have talent AND are considerate to carry the slack of the lazy, inconsiderate, nondedicated people who don’t do their duties as part of a team.

As a team leader for a relatively small team by most counts (12) we accept kids from all over. Some are home schooled others belong to schools without a team. We are a close knit group. These kids come from all walks of life and they know they can count on each other for almost anything. Sounds like you need to do some team building exercises. Our team climbs rock walls and rope bridge climbing for some of the team building exercises. Most of these kids had never met before and now they are ALL the best of friends. They have learned to except each others differences and down falls. When 1 comes up short there is somebody there to aid them. We never use critical words to each other and only use positive reinforcement. Find something that everybody on your team would like to do that will strengthen each other. Nothing competitive, something where you have to help each other to accomplish 1 goal. If nobody wants to fund raise then just go to 1 regional it is not the end of the world to attend just 1. Consider yourself lucky to do that 1. In the off season find some small competitions to join. There are several out there and they are cheap to take part in. Use this season as a team building season and learn from it Good luck