Building an effective team is an ongoing challenge for all managers. Just when you think you have the right team, and they6 steps to build an effective team are performing at top capacity, life changes. The goals of your organization changes, one of your team members leaves, a business crisis emerges, and you are faced with a team out of balance.

building-a-team1. Stop and take a breather. Unfortunately, many managers immediately go into survival mode and start reacting to the situation. It’s important to take some time to assess what the new needs of your team will be.

2. Go into investigative mode. Check in with your major stakeholders, what will be their needs based on the new organization’s situation. If a team member is leaving, what will other departments or members of your team miss and what opportunity is there to either improve the services that member provided or even change direction. A Director I am currently coaching discussed with another department about one of her staff leaving and discovered that some of the work she was doing was a result of outdated procedures that could now be revamped to save time and resources.

3. Identify the talent and experience needs that may now exist if there is a change in organizational direction without looking at your exiting team. Take the time to dive into what the expectations will be of your boss and senior leadership. It is quite common that the senior team does not understand the different skills that may be needed to meet the new business challenge so this is your chance to make a business case for additional or different staff.

4. Assess the strengths and abilities of your team through the new lens of your situation. Consider partnering with the Human Resources Department and/or an outside consultant to help you do a more objective assessment of your team. Do they need additional training? If someone will not be the right fit going forward, are there other opportunities in the organization?

5. Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Let your team hear from you what is happening. If you are assessing business needs, work flow and the talent of the team, tell them why. Expect that they may feel nervous and concerned about their jobs. Acknowledge that this is an uncertain time but you will keep them updated as appropriate.

6. Once a new team structure is in place, launch it with a team building meeting. Clearly explain each members’ role, what your expectations are for the team and how you want communication to flow. The only thing you can – and should – promise is that you will do your best to provide them the information and tools they need to do their jobs and that you will be open to questions and suggestions on how to improve the efficiency of the department. Just don’t promise that there will be no more changes – that’s not a reality in today’s workplace!

What has worked for you in your goal to build an effective team? Have you ever been part of a team that went through a rebuilding phase that was not handled well? If yes, what were your lessons learned? Please share your suggestions on how to build an effective team.

Mary Ann Gontin is Managing Partner of OI Global Partners – Cunis & Gontin, Inc. in Connecticut. Her firm has been providing human resources consulting services since 1974. Mary Ann has become recognized by clients for her ability to identify organizational and individual performance issues and propose creative and practical solutions. She can be reached at or 800-473-4507.

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