Football, baseball, cricket… no matter which team sport you follow, you’d have experienced this moment – the time when your favorite team loses its star performers and the team composition changes. The stalwarts retire, coach quits and there are gaps to be filled. The biggest effect is on the on-field performance! It’s just not what it used to be!

The corporate environment is no different from the sports field. Here too, employee movement (lateral shift, sabbatical, exit, and so on) affects team composition and subsequently, the performance. Replacing the members and rebuilding the ace pack is a Herculean task. But as a team lead or manager, you know, it needs to be done.

Here are some tips to help you ride the rough wave and make your team rebuilding program a success.

  • Redesign based on the big picture. Don’t just think about the next project your new team will have to face. Take this opportunity to envision what sort of a team you truly want to build. To borrow from the sports field imagery, don’t focus only on the next world cup. Think of how you can improve the overall performance of the team across departments – strategy, fitness, camaraderie. Make this your guiding purpose, and build a team that weathers the roughest of patches to emerge as winners.
  • Focus on overall skill balance. Don’t just focus on the skills of the people exiting; assess the team’s overall skill levels and competency required to reach the ‘big picture’ goals. Consider additions or subtractions to the team based on that. After all, the skills are mere means to a bigger end.
  • Blend skills with personality. Who’s got the technical competency and who’s got the persevering streak? Who can be a great client interface, and who can play a harmonizing role? Balance the technical skills with personality traits to get a team that works well. As we all know, the atmosphere in the ‘dressing room’ matters.
  • Consider personal stories. Check who will be available for a short period, who might go on a break and who might be able to do a long haul. If someone needs to take a break, what’s your plan B? Prepare for contingency by introducing ‘job rotation’ within the team. It will help members get familiar with each other’s roles and also understand how to contribute to each other’s success, and in the process, the overall team performance.

The clear theme running through all these points is the need to rebuild in a planned and even gradual manner. And not give in to the temptation to quickly replace people by matching merely skills or experience. Skill replacement might help fill the short-term gap, but it limits the long-term possibilities for the team.

So, if your ace team loses a member or your star performers quit, don’t fret. Find the silver lining of an opportunity to strengthen your squad in every way possible. And persevere. For nothing ventured, nothing gained!

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