Bringing your team back together

What are the considerations for the task, the team and the individual needs.

Former Global Executive Director, Learning and Development at R/GA, Liz Nottingham examines what we need to do when bringing teams back together in the office.

As we start to think about coming back as teams, a way of working with this big issue is to look at it through the lens of John Adair; what are the considerations for the task, the team and the individual needs?

The task needs

The brain loves a problem so the easiest place to go to for many is the task. Activities here could include:

  • Training up your first aiders and checking on the necessary PPE.
  • Have you got mental health First Aiders in place along with an employee assistance program?
  • Have reviewed your cleaning contracts along with your health and safety policy and your sickness policy to accommodate for COVID-19?
  • What new health and safety training is required and what are the consequences for breaching this?
  • How well equipped all your people at home currently.
  • Is there a case for shipping out the office chairs and conducting individual home risk assessments?

The team needs

The people piece requires additional thought, empathy and dialogue. We are now at a stage where we need to be creating people-centric cultures by paying attention to what do people need, what do they want, what do they value and how do they want to be together as a team? As we progress through the change curve there is a lot of emotion in the system right now, so we need to meet people where they are. Hybrid team structures are likely which will require new skills and support for our line managers.

This change gives the opportunity to think about a working team alliance; what qualities do we need as a team going forward, how will we be together and what is now possible? We are not all in the same boat – we may not even be in the same storm.

The individual needs

As leaders of ourselves and others, this crisis presents a case for a much needed leadership pause. As something is ending something new is wanting to emerge. We need to allow this to emerge. As individual leaders there is a case for reflection as a leadership team; what do we want to be known for, how can we create the greatest organisation possible, what myths have we broken and how do I want to be as a leader in the future. Those of us who want to lead from the front without looking behind us may not have the best leadership style going forward. We need to move from presentation to conversation. In order to lead we need to take care of ourselves; "the quality of the intervention depends on the interior of the intervener."

Our response to change

How do you respond to change? Are you a leaper who gets into action, a bridge builder who takes time or a traditionalist who hold organisation know how? We can all be all three of these. How are you now and how is your team?


Have a think about which area attracts your attention; the task, the individual, or the team. Why might that be and which area is in need of your attention? How might you respond to that. Peter Drucker who said "the greatest danger in times of turbulence it is not the turbulence itself, it is responding with yesterday’s logic." Notice when you might be drawn into yesterday’s logic.

Liz Nottingham is the former Global Executive Director, Learning and Development at R/GA.

Last updated 01 May 2024