The HOT Plan™: When to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em.

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Is there ever a good time to disband a team?

About once a year, Pitsco’s executive team, Tribal Council, evaluates our company teams to see what is working, what is not, which teams should continue and which should be dissolved.

Admitting that a team concept is unsound or a team has outlived its usefulness can be painful, but it is even more painful to drag a team through a long, slow demise. Your business will benefit if you keep in mind this simple but profound piece of advice borrowed from the game of poker: You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em.

Folding a team isn’t easy but it is inevitable from time to time. Like everything else, teams have a life cycle. When efficiency, results and impact fade, it’s time to fold the team.

If a team’s effectiveness is in question, it should be re-evaluated.

Evaluation questions include:

  • Is the team fulfilling its original purpose?
  • Is a personnel issue inhibiting the effectiveness of the group?
  • Is the team’s leadership overburdened?
  • Did the personalities on the team fail to produce the right dynamics?

Sometimes the problem may run as deep as the team’s original purpose. In other words, was the team really needed in the first place? A good example of this type of problem occurred at Pitsco when we formed a team called Corporate Services. When we set up the team it seemed like a fine idea – bringing together Accounting, the IT department, and Human Resources. But after a number of meetings, we had to admit that the team wasn’t doing anything unique. The question, “What are we supposed to be doing?” hung over this team’s meetings like a dark cloud. After a while, team members themselves chose to disband and Tribal Council finalized it.

Dealing effectively with team-endings is as much a part of your company’s success as great team-beginnings.

Disbanding a team when it has outlived its usefulness is not a failure. It is, instead, an act of good stewardship. Folding a team that is past its prime gives a chance to redirect employee energy and sharpen your organization’s focus on its targeted goals for the year ahead.

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