7 Habits of Highly Effective (Trivia) Teams


In business and life, you can’t get very far without running into the “7 Habits of Highly Effective…” ideas presented by renowned author Dr. Stephen Covey. From mandatory reading in many MBA courses to being named by Forbes as one of the Top 10 Most Influential Management Books, Dr. Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” book has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide in 40 different languages. Before passing away in 2012 at the age of 79, Dr. Covey’s empire extended to include “Highly Effective…” Children, Families, and teams, and was responsible for generating $1.4 billion in revenue. Trivia teams can take Dr. Covey’s advice and start generating their own revenue… in the form of winning gift certificates!


Habit 1: Be Proactive

Proactive trivia teams take initiative to ensure they are prepared for trivia night. Hints of the Week are researched, current events have been monitored, and drivers have been designated. Each member of the team knows their roles and takes active responsibility for what Dr. Covey calls their “Circle of Influence,” or the things they individually can participate in. You may not be a SCIENCE nerd, but you might solve the emcee’s twisted musical clue that gives your team confidence to make a bigger wager. Proactive teams are fully engaged for every question throughout the night, relying on all the information presented before reaching a consensus.


Habit 2: Begin With The End in Mind

The “end” of a trivia show is tough to define. On any given night, your team’s final goal changes depending on the outcome(s) needed by the group and can even evolve during a show because of, well, trivia. Maybe your team really needs that $30 gift certificate. Maybe your team really needs a better league average. Maybe your team just REALLY needs to beat Team-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Whatever the motivation, articulating and agreeing about the final outcomes beforehand (and throughout…some people need reminders…) is essential for every highly effective trivia team.


Habit 3: Put First Things First

The living embodiment of the first two habits. On trivia night, teams have a limited amount of time before the answer is due, so they must establish a highly effective process for determining their answer that allows each individual’s personal influence to be voiced and heard. This process may take many forms, but should include strategies for answering, guessing, wagering, Bonus Questions, theme rounds, hints, and even who draws the pictures on the answer sheet.


Habit 4: Think Win/Win

If there’s one thing trivia teams think about more than trivia, it’s about winning. Too often, however, this competitive mindset takes a toll on the team if the focus during disagreements is about unproductive comparisons or a win/lose mentality. Instead, highly effective teams seek win/win solutions as a group through positive cooperation and collaboration using integrity and maturity to guide their decision making.


Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then Be Understood

  Arguably the most important habit for trivia teams to learn, this highly successful rule encourages teams to establish effective communication routines through listening and understanding first, before seeking to be understood. During a trivia contest, there are many things that can interfere with the ability of a team to communicate, but listening is the most crucial skill for every trivia teams to acquire, which allows each teammate’s voice to be heard and the team to achieve greater success.


Habit 6: Synergize

The ability of the trivia team to synergize all of the information presented in a way that is fair and open is what Dr. Covey calls “creative cooperation” and it is vital for teams when reaching solutions. Teams that master this skill realize how the sum of their parts is greater than any of their individual strengths (and weaknesses) and are rewarded for this awareness by more correct answers, more confident wagers, and sometimes more educated “lucky” guesses.


Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

For trivia teams, finding appropriate trivia/life balance and boundaries can be a challenge, but highly effective teams can utilize this balance to hone their trivia skills even when not playing trivia. By participating in activities that will supplement their current knowledge base or engaging in new experiences to broaden their horizons, there are many ways individuals and teams can take advantage of non-trivia time, or even, non-league times.