5 Reasons to Launch (and Relaunch) Your Team

Have you ever been part of a team project and wished you could start over? In this post, I explain what a “team launch” is and walk you through 5 examples of when you need one.

relaunch your team
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Have you ever worked on a team project and halfway through you wished you could start over? Your team was confused and communicating poorly. People were frustrated and starting to miss deadlines. You asked yourself, where did we go wrong?

If this rings true for you, you’re not alone! It is common for teams to jump too quickly into new projects in order to maximize their time.

However, research shows that 90% of variation in team effectiveness is due to team design (60%) and team launch (30%).*

While it takes more time and effort in the beginning, being intentional about launching your team is a worthwhile investment for long-term team effectiveness.

What is a team launch?

A team launch is a working session where team members come together to intentionally build a team. It could be 1 to 3 hours or 1 to 3 days long. Whether you’re working together for the first time or an established team going through changes, a team launch is an invaluable exercise to create alignment and set you up for long-term success.

The primary goal of a team launch is to build a strong foundation for your work together. It includes aligning on your team purpose and values, assessing your resources (skills, knowledge, experiences), discussing communication styles and expectations around communication, agreeing on working norms, deciding how the team will handle conflict, and ensuring that team members are clear on their roles and responsibilities.

When to launch and relaunch your team

1. New project or shift in goals

This is the most important time to launch your team. A new project or set of goals changes the purpose of your team. It is a great opportunity to take stock of your resources, align on your norms and expectations, and clearly define roles and responsibilities.

2. Someone new joins the team

Usually when a new team member joins an already existing team, time is spent integrating that team member into already existing norms, processes and values. It is a mistake to assume everything will continue to flow as it was before. The addition of even one new team member completely changes the dynamic of the group. Use this opportunity to do a quick team relaunch. It will help build trust and investment with the new team member and allow the team to acclimate more efficiently.

3. Someone leaves the team

When someone leaves a team, the experience can be similar to gaining a new team member. Losing a team member changes the dynamic of the team. Each person plays a specific role and when someone leaves there is a gap. Who will fill that gap? If you don’t come together to relaunch, people will make assumptions about how that gap should be filled and they likely won’t all agree.

4. New manager

It is common for a team to stay in tact and be assigned a new manager. This is an ideal scenario to relaunch your team. The new manager should not be expected to simply adopt things “exactly as they were” nor should the team be forced to completely change their ways. Together, you can build a strong foundation that aligns everyone’s values and working styles.

5. Low team morale/ negative team culture

Lastly, relaunching your team is a valuable strategy to address low team morale or a negative team culture. Negativity can be a result of many things, many of which are in your team’s control to change! Team members could be struggling to effectively communicate with one another. Or they could be frustrated with how the team is approaching decision making. They begin to make assumptions about why things aren’t meeting their expectations. Instead of letting this snowball into a toxic team culture, hit the pause button and give your team an opportunity to realign.

Working on a team will always bring challenges along the way, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend time preparing for them. The next time you’re starting a new project or your team is going through changes, consider using a team launch to realign and set yourselves up for long-term success.

Questions about how to plan for and lead a team launch? Let’s chat!

Grab 15 minutes for a call on my calendar here.

*Hackman, Richard. Collaborative Intelligence: Using Teams to Solve Hard Problems. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2011. Print.

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