Teams come in different shapes and sizes, and serve various purposes. When you’re lucky enough to have a team that’s been together for a while or worked on multiple projects, one of the difficulties can be to re-engage a team. Downtime can be great; you can consider it like an “off-season,” but what to do to reignite that spark? Perhaps it is a time when the group is not actively involved in a project or is in between major initiatives. So, if you want to re-engage a team, the steps are to refresh, refocus, and reinvent the way that you deal with your team. Recapturing the positive energy from past successes and sustaining momentum is a major priority for any organization. Regardless of whether the team has a long history together or is trying to show it’s not a one-hit wonder, there are strategies worth employing to getting a team back together and performing at a high level.
For some team members, reconvening after time away is no problem, they pick up right where they left off. For others, it can feel awkward, and these feelings can be shared by people on the same team since we all bring our own perspectives and feelings. In order to get everyone back on the same page, it can help to hit the REFRESH button. No matter how long the team has been apart, all the team members have gone through changes, achieved milestones, learned something new, suffered setbacks, etc. When a team reconvenes, a helpful strategy is to give the members an opportunity to update each other on what they’ve been working on and what’s new in their world. A refresh session becomes even more important when newer members are being introduced into an existing team.
Once the team has been thoroughly reintroduced (or introduced) to one another, it is important to take time to re-visit the team’s reason for being. How similar is this project or initiative to a previous one? Even for teams that have experienced significant successes, trying to apply a previously used recipe doesn’t always end up with the same results. When teams come together after time away, they need to RE-FOCUS on their mission, vision and core values. This doesn’t always mean creating new mission and vision statements, but it is effective to evaluate if the team’s old mission fits the new project. If the objectives have changed, if the end users are going to be different or if you are adding value to a different part of the business, there is a chance the mission or vision could use updating.
Something else to keep in mind is that not every team has a written mission or vision statement, or has thought of its core principles. When re-engaging a team, or looking to take its performance to a new level, taking the time to consider these foundational pieces are strategies that can re-focus a team and get them ready for the next adventure.
Most people recognize that the benefit of working on a team is that the team can accomplish much more than the sum of each individual contributor on his or her own. One person may be able to do every single task required to launch a new product or program, but by approaching it with a team, you benefit from diversity of thought and ideas, more effective use of resources, and team members whose strengths balance others’ weaknesses. One aspect of teams that should not get overlooked is the opportunity to learn and lead.
Bringing a team back together after time away is not only a great opportunity to replicate past success (or even redemption), but it can be a perfect time for team members to play different roles. By taking a long-term and developmental approach to working in teams, helping colleagues sharpen their skills and improve in areas that are less developed becomes a byproduct of effective team performance that will benefit the team in the near-term, and the individual and organization in the long-term.
So much potential lies in working in teams. The greater the challenge there is, the more the potential benefit to the organization. By recognizing the necessary steps to re-engage a team, there is opportunity to not only get off to a great start, but even take the team’s performance to new heights.