Why The New Year is the Perfect Time for a Team Tune-Up

A fresh start in a new year allows us to draw a line in the sand and step over it. It’s a natural break in the calendar to rejuvenate our workplaces and our teams if we leverage it intentionally. I think the entire month of January lends itself to the reboot, so if you’re reading this on January 20th it’s not too late to employ “new year fresh thinking!”

I’m never a fan of trudging along doing the “same old same old.” So let’s take a fresh look at things! And while we’re at it, let’s make it an opportunity to engage your team in working not just in the business but on the business. 

So how do you do that?

I recommend you bring your team together for a Team Tune-Up. 

This process works whether you’re a CEO leading an executive team, a solopreneur, or anywhere in between.

You can leverage the questions I’ll give you here to get the conversation going. 

Prepare the Team for the Tune-Up

Give your team members these questions ahead of time so they can think ahead and come to the meeting with 2-3 ideas for each category.  

Before the meeting begins, if you’re meeting physically in a room, post giant Post-It style flip charts around with the headings KEEP DOING, STOP DOING, and START DOING. 

Be sure to have lots of Post-It notes for team members to write on. If it is a virtual meeting you can create a whiteboard on the screen for people to write ideas on.

Ask someone to serve as your scribe so you capture everything. If the meeting is in a physical room, this can be done by taking photos of completed flip charts around the room, and noting decisions made. If the meeting is virtual they can save digital whiteboards, or record the meeting, and also note decisions made.

Start the Team Tune-Up

To start the meeting, give participants stacks of Post-It notes to write their answers (can you tell I like Post-Its and flip charts?).  Each team member should write their answers on Post-It notes and then place them on the appropriate flip charts. 

If your meeting is virtual spend time discussing each of the three categories below in order.

Keep Doing:

Questions to help you think about it…

  • Where are we winning?
  • What are we routinely doing that’s working?
  • What tasks, rituals, or processes are serving us well as a team or a company?
  • What is something that if we stopped doing you’d be disappointed, or the business or team would suffer?

Examples

Maybe your monthly meetings are going really well and the team wants to keep doing them. Or maybe you have a quality assurance checkpoint that’s critical to your process. It’s healthy to call out the things the team is doing well. Take a few minutes to recognize these things, and the people associated with them, as a mini celebration, affirmation, or confirmation. 

Stop Doing: 

Questions to help you think about it…

  • What drags down the timeline or the energy in our process?
  • What bad habits do we have that hinder effectiveness?
  • What social tendencies do we have that inhibit team cohesiveness? (gossiping, not being supportive, etc.)
  • What are we tolerating that maybe we shouldn’t?

Examples

Sometimes there are things that just don’t serve the team well. Unnecessary or unproductive meetings is often one. Or maybe there’s a step in your research or design or communication process that no longer adds value. Ditch it! Or modify it. Sometimes team members slip into behaviors that undermine the team. It’s time to call that out and take a new path.

Start Doing: 

Questions to help you think about it…

  • We could offer better value or quality if we _____.
  • We could gain new customers if we ________.
  • We could understand one another better if we ________.
  • Our culture and our brand would be stronger if we __________.

Examples…

Sometimes there are meetings that should be happening that aren’t. Sometimes people are not included in a phase of your work cycle and they should be. Sometimes there’s a communication vacuum and the organization or clients don’t know what’s going on. Sometimes people don’t understand or appreciate one another’s personalities. Let’s fix it!

Process the Tune-Up Ideas

Now that everyone’s answers are posted, take time to discuss each category (Keep, Stop, Start). When the team agrees to make a change, assign one owner to any idea that requires accountability to make the change actually happen! What you don’t want is to simply talk about ideas and not get traction. Ownership and accountability are critical for traction. 

Sometimes this kind of conversation gets messy and you’ll need to assign people to dig into things a bit and then re-circle the team around them at the next meeting. And sometimes a meeting like this can go longer than expected. It’s okay to break it up into two or three meetings. Just don’t let much time go between the meetings. You need to keep the momentum!

End a Team Tune-Up Well

Ask your team for feedback on the meeting. Was it beneficial? Would they want to do it annually, or quarterly perhaps? What changes would they make? If you feel like they’d prefer to give anonymous feedback put a quick, free survey together in Survey Monkey.

Benefits to the Leader and Team

The benefits to you as the team leader are many! 

You get better ideas when you mine your team for their nuggets of wisdom. You’ll be amazed at what they come up with. And thankful!

Your team will feel more valued and engaged — and as a result, will deliver better work with deeper commitment.  The Team Tune-Up experience is bonding!

So, what are you waiting for? You can facilitate this yourself without a lot of preparation.  Or reach out to me and I’ll facilitate it for you so you can participate with your employees.

Do you want to grow your ability to lead your employees and teams well? Join us for Launch! Launch is a 12-week course that uses blended learning, personalized instruction and private coaching to enhance your managerial skills. Hurry, registration closes on February 10th! See what people are saying about it here.