Team working togetherThere’s an old saying, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”  The same concept applies to focusing on your team’s performance.  Work teams are always changing, people come, people go, responsibilities or staff structure change.  Sure, you could wait until the perfect time to address challenges your team is facing, but we all know that perfect time will never come.

Why Now?

Fall is an excellent time to focus on developing your team or recommitting to shared expectations.  Summer is difficult time–especially in northern climes–to focus on training, development or on addressing challenges.  Employees and managers alike take vacation, they try and get caught up on work that they’ve fallen behind on, and it seems like there are no weeks when everyone is at their desk and moving things forward.  That’s okay.  People need to recharge and spend time with important people in their lives.

But, summer is often a time when shared commitments and shared expectations can begin to slide.  Ducking out early for a happy hour or a baseball game may be appropriate, but relaxing norms in the summer can sometimes deteriorate into a slackening of performance and behavior expectations overall.  It’s important to address these and any other issues, as soon as possible when they appear, but sometimes even leaders miss the signs until it’s too late.

How do I get the team moving forward again?

The exact processes to refocus on team performance and shared expectations will of course vary from organization to organization, but the concepts will be similar.

  • Gather:  Whether it’s an all-staff meeting or team workshops, get everyone together.
  • Celebrate:  Celebrate recent successes and recognize individuals who have performed well.
  • Reflect:  Give people an opportunity to weigh-in on how the team is performing, be it a large scale survey or small group discussions.  Encourage people to think about their own performance and contribution to the team.
  • Discuss:  Talk about important topics whether positive or negative.  Give people an appropriate avenue to reconnect with one another and to express their opinions on major factors impacting the team.
  • Recommit:  Review or create shared expectations, communicate that supervisors will be holding people accountable to them and get people to recommit to those shared values.

In northern Minnesota we love fall.  The colors, the brisk mornings, the absence of bugs.  Fall can also be a great time to re-focus our team and our efforts as well. Remember, the second best time to address existing challenges is today.

Jerritt Johnston is the Owner of True North Consultants, which promotes organizational, individual and team growth through challenging, fun and relevant activities and processes.  True North is an Authorized Partner for Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™.