Starting the Next Season

Published: August 7, 2018

Sports teams and schools measure their progression in seasons. The chance to regroup is built into the rhythm of the annual cycles. Players and coaches come and go. Teachers and administrators change roles. The off-season provides the opportunity to recover from the depletion of the past year and gear up for the beginning of the next round. Even if your team doesn’t have defined seasons, the need to refresh is just as important. Here’s why.

Living things – relationships, teams, groups, organizations, communities – evolve in cycles. Norms and values get established in the beginning. Trust matures from that foundation. The resulting connection creates a platform for growth. The team adapts to the change it has created. The next cycle begins with refreshed norms, deeper trust, more innovative expansion, and another recalibration.

Consider the triggers of a reboot.

  • Leadership change
  • Merger/acquisition
  • Accomplished goal
  • Relocation
  • Promotion/demotion
  • Innovation opportunity
  • Business growth
  • Workforce reduction
  • Retirement

Each of these events ends one season and begins another. The end of each cycle signals the team to mourn what’s been lost, take stock in what’s been gained, and embrace the new circumstances. Like a night’s sleep or a winter’s dormancy, the transition to the next phase requires energy to be restored to the system before it can be invested in a fresh stage of growth.

Teachers and professional athletes always seem to return from their breaks in an optimistic state of mind. They’ve processed the lessons from the previous season and are excited for new possibilities. Most importantly, they’ve embraced the gift of beginning anew.

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.