Refreshing Your Team for the Next Round of Growth

Published: September 15, 2015

After 15-20 years of schooling, an academic cycle is built into the rhythm of most of our lives. There is a beginning, middle, and an end followed by a period of regrouping. Activities ramp up, achieve a cadence, and eventually prepare for the next transition. The hands on the clock keep spinning as teams navigate the challenges of their circumstances. The ebbs and flows of these seasons are barely discernible but the transactions that define each cycle drive the team’s evolution. What propels your team’s growth in each stage?

Let’s look at the key drivers:

Reinvestment: Each new beginning offers a chance to measure your level of engagement with a project, your teammates, and the organization. The degree to which you invest determines the strength of the platform that will eventually support your innovations.

Embracing Conflict and Difference: Friction on the team is a gift when it’s managed with respect, maturity, and professionalism. A new day invites a new idea. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

Increasing Connection: Trust is cumulative. It is earned with accountability and damaged with neglect. The cyclical nature of teams offers endless second chances. Seize the opportunity to advance your professional relationships to the next level.

Risk/Reward: Making a brighter future only begins with a vision. Insight eventually requires action. The brainstorm stage has little danger. The peril unfolds when the team enters the arena and wages the battle. Courage during these times moves the team forward.

Adaptation: Each day has an unexpected action that requires a reaction. Sometimes our responses are nimble and poised while other times we’re awkward and clumsy. Efforts to keep things from changing are usually counterproductive. Moving with the flow of change is often the best strategy.

Refueling: The natural breaks in the cycle are designed to recharge the system. Walking away and getting some space is an effective way of finding clarity. Depleted resources need restocking. Fuel the next phase of growth with well-earned rest.


The stages of the cycle are predictable in healthy teams. Follow the refueling phase with a renewed investment. Use this as a platform for building trust. Leverage the connection to innovate. Distance from the project to manage the changes you’ve created. Adapt with poise and begin again.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.