It’s time for the annual physical at the doctor’s office. Last month it was time for the annual car inspection. In a few months I’m sure I will be getting a call to tune up the A/C units ready for the summer heat here in Texas. We all do these things even though we’re pretty sure that nothing major is wrong: it’s good insurance despite the cost and hassle. So why then do we not take the same steps to ensure our teams are primed and ready to work at peak efficiency each year?
Now, I’m not talking about performance reviews or annual appraisals (although those are just as important). I think most companies have a process of some sort around individual reviews, but I also know from experience that very few have the same approach to teams as a whole. Again, I’m not counting the annual team dinner or sales kick-off; these are not true diagnostics of the state of the team.
Why do you need it? Well, many reasons, but change is a primary factor. Without doubt, something will have changed in the last year: team members, team goals, company direction, processes, etc. Any change like this (indeed the act of change itself) can influence team dynamics significantly and throw a once perfectly balanced team into a sidespin.
Each team has a set of ingrained behaviors that determines their functional performance. These behaviors work in complimentary ways (and sometimes-conflicting ways) that need to be understood in context to the team goals and activities. Since change is a constant, you can never assume that what works yesterday will work today or tomorrow.
I’m not suggesting you should put a date sticker on your team, but on a regular basis, and especially in the midst of change, you should always assume that your team inspection is due! Please let us know if we can help you with this!