Dynamic Reteaming | Heidi Helfand

Summary of: Dynamic Reteaming: The Art and Wisdom of Changing Teams
By: Heidi Helfand


In a rapidly changing world, teams must adapt to maintain their effectiveness. In Heidi Helfand’s book ‘Dynamic Reteaming: The Art and Wisdom of Changing Teams’, she explores the concept of dynamic reteaming, the process of deliberately and positively altering a team’s structure. The book investigates the three levels of dynamic reteaming – individual, team, and company – and shares strategies for managing these changes. Helfand emphasizes the importance of the human element and the need for leaders to engage with their team members during transitions. Readers can look forward to practical examples and useful techniques to help them successfully guide their teams through periods of change.

Embracing Change Through Dynamic Reteaming

Dynamic reteaming is a process of dealing productively with changing teams. It involves three levels – individual, team, and company – where changes can happen simultaneously and at varying speeds. Adding team members can bring new energy and fresh ideas that raise the group’s cumulative ability, intellect or knowledge. However, losing a team member, especially an integral one, can be painful and may take time for the remaining members to accept. The goal of dynamic reteaming is to alter a team’s structure to promote positive change, provide learning opportunities, and strengthen the group’s potential. Yet, it’s essential to respect and consider the people involved when implementing it. Team leaders need to understand that a newly structured team won’t move forward instantly. It takes time to adjust to the new circumstances.

Effective Team Management

Effective team management involves understanding that moving team members around like chess pieces often backfires, and team chemistry is essential for high performance. Teams can utilize self-reflection and analysis to improve their efficiency and identify structural inefficiencies that need correction. AppFolio and Unruly are examples of companies that involve employees in team-building decisions, which encourages knowledge-sharing and helps build well-rounded teams.

Effective Dynamic Reteaming

Managing dynamic reteaming requires tailoring methods to fit your organization’s specific needs and anchoring your initiative to the “why”. Employee input is crucial in effective reteaming, which not only boosts your company’s competitive edge but also mitigates operational risks. The five typical patterns of reteaming can serve as a starting point, but each company must find what works best for them.

Adding New People to Teams

Adding new people to teams demands strategy and sensitivity. A successful approach is to “seed” teams with experienced employees and build around them. However, this strategy works only when the leaders and team members embrace the challenge and drive the team forward. New hires must feel welcome, and companies must discuss their operational concepts and cultural expectations. Assigning mentors to new employees generates acceptance and inclusion and helps them settle in. When employees are fired or leave voluntarily, team members should discuss how to move forward. Companies must establish protocols to address the consequences.

Indicators to Split a Team

Adding members to a team might disrupt efficiency. Here are four signals to consider splitting a team: longer meetings, delayed decisions, more divergence, and tuning out. When you break a team, communicate the reasons and the objectives of the new team. Encourage communication between employees to adapt to the structural change.

Adding team members can be disruptive, and the challenge of making a team larger is a common one. However, there are certain indicators to watch out for when considering splitting a team into smaller units. First, longer meetings occur when communications and project work are disrupted by the increasing number of employees. Second, bigger groups have difficulty achieving consensus resulting in delayed decisions. Third, members of large teams may feel free to deviate from the norm, causing more divergence. Lastly, tuning out is common in large groups, causing some employees to participate less.

When breaking a team, it’s vital to make the reasons and objectives of a new team clear to all. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page. Encouraging employees to communicate about the changes can also aid in the team’s adaptation to structural changes. Remember to smooth the process of structural change to minimize disruption to the team’s effectiveness.

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