Make us your home page
Instagram
Career Q&A | By Liz Reyer, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

What to do when a small team gets smaller

Q I have a small team, and it just got smaller due to the sudden departure of one staff member for nonwork- related reasons. Do you have suggestions to help us absorb his workload and maintain our stamina?

A: Do plenty of planning and get support from both inside and outside the team.

The inner game

Start by getting your feet under you — you won't be able to help your team if you're still reeling. Develop a calm outlook toward the future, especially the next month while you're feeling the short-term impact. Notice any strong feelings that may disrupt you, such as anxiety or anger, so that you can keep them from setting the tone.

Develop a vision for successful transition. Focus on the actions your team will have taken, how you'll be feeling, and the outcome after you've made it through the crisis. Use this challenging situation to help you turn into an even more cohesive group.

To achieve your vision, think about the remaining team members, their strengths, and the ways they may have been affected by your team member's departure. Use this to develop preliminary ideas on how to best allocate the work, as well as some "energy-management" strategies.

The outer game

Bring the team together to discuss your preliminary plan and next steps. Acknowledge that everyone is going to have to pick up more work, recognize that it won't be easy for a while, and share whatever you can about plans to fill his position.

Then, take a week at a time, listing everything he was scheduled to do, and dividing it up based on knowledge and capacity. Also develop a coverage plan for ad hoc requests and questions he may have fielded. There may be projects where the team's information is incomplete and documentation is sketchy. Assign these and provide as much time as possible to investigate what needs to be done. Also determine what could be done by temps or contract employees.

Develop a communication plan for your internal and external clients. Minimizing their confusion and disruption will make it easier to keep things moving.

For the "stamina" aspect, address this as a team and individually. Good morale will help, so show appreciation in tangible (gift cards, time off once the crunch is over) and intangible (public or private recognition) ways. Keep your sense of humor, and help your team do the same.

Physical well-being will also make a difference. If you're all working long hours, bring in food, including healthful and "treat" items. Set aside an empty office or conference room where people can rest if needed. Encourage breaks to get away from work and get fresh air, and seek support from friends, family and co-workers outside your team.

The last word

Sudden disruption of the team can create challenges, but planning and looking out for each other will help you come out of it strong.

Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience. Her company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services for organizations of all sizes.

What to do when a small team gets smaller 06/29/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Star Tribune (Minneapolis).
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas licensing board asks Sen. Jack Latvala for $500,000 loan

    Local Government

    The troubled Pinellas County agency that regulates contractors wants Sen. Jack Latvala to help it get a $500,000 lifeline from the state to stay afloat.

    State Sen . Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, is being asked to help the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board get $500,000 from the state so it can stay open beyond February.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  3. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  4. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  5. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]