How to reshuffle your team

One of your teams is not firing on all cylinders - morale seems low and its performance is patchy. Governments favour the reshuffle, so maybe now's the time to do your own. Here's a crash course.

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Why do it?

The best reason for rethinking a team is that it's no longer configured to deliver the best performance. That could be because the strategic focus or market has changed, or your organisation has evolved. 'Start-up teams are often entrepreneurial and energetic risk-takers but not great caretakers,' says Clive Hook of bespoke management development consultancy Clearworth. 'It may be that stability, steadiness and considered action are now required.'

Get feedback.

'The best arbiter of team success is whether it is trusted to deliver by sponsors, supporters and stakeholders,' says Hook. 'So make it clear that you really welcome feedback.' Social media may also give some clues as to how your team is perceived.

Carry out a team audit.

Compare what the team is doing with what it should be doing; whether the right skills and experience are available; and whether the structure and resources meet the need. 'Teams which lack the ability to function as a cohesive unit are more likely to fail to meet business expectations, so it is essential that individuals acquire the key competencies needed,' says development consultancy Cubiks.

Try development.

Before you start shaking things up, see if you can improve your existing team. 'It can be highly destructive if you dismantle the team, so before you embark on that course, see if you can improve the team you've got,' says Binna Kandola, senior partner of business psychologists Pearn Kandola. 'Talk to them individually about what's going wrong.'

Look for square pegs.

Evaluate whether team members might perform better in a different role. If you can find out what people are talented at - as opposed to what they are competent at - they are likely to perform much better.

Be transparent.

'It's important this is seen to be happening for the right reasons, and that people can understand the way roles are allocated,' says Kandola. 'There's a concept called organisational justice which means that when a decision is made, the process used to reach that decision is seen to be fair.'

Look for team players.

When you're making your new selection, consider whether each one can rise above the individual. 'Are they capable of learning new skills, responding to feedback and performing as part of the team?' asks Kandola.

Look forward.

'Focus on building for the future, rather than dealing with a train wreck that has occurred,' says Hook. 'And honour the contribution of those who are no longer going to be part of the picture.'

Do say:

'We are rebuilding this team to deliver the best performance for stakeholders.'

Don't say:

'This is Year Zero. You're all going to have to apply for your old jobs.'

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