How to Rebuild Your Team (5 Steps to Rebound From Temporary Lay Offs)

Many things can cause a team to be dismantled.

Having not built the right team from the beginning can cause you to have to rebuild. Of course, things such as Covid-19 and a recession can cause this too.

In this blog post, I will share the five steps to follow when it comes time to start rebuilding your team.

Stay in Touch (overcommunicating is a good thing)

This step would be specific to temporary layoffs. If your team has downsized because of current market conditions than I would create a communications plan (you don’t need to hire a pro for this).

I’d suggest that the communication plan consists of two functions:

  • As Arises: this is for information that becomes available from authorities that your employees need to know about. For example, employment insurance procedures and instructions.
  • Structured: set a rule of thumb of how often you’re going to regularly communicate. For example, you may say, “we will reach out via email every three days with useful information.” This useful information could be articles to read on mental and physical health or something else.

Staying in touch with distilled and knowledgable information will continue the bond you have with your team that can be leveraged at a later date.

Think About Your Labour Forecast 

Most businesses will not return to their regular rates. The airline industry took years to return to it’s regular operating levels after 9/11.

I suggest creating four use cases:

  • Regularity: customers come back at pre-event rates.
  • 75-99%: customers come back but at a moderate rate.
  • 50-75%: customers return but at a slow rate.
  • 50% and below: you may need to rethink your entire model and become vulnerable to bankruptcy. 

Evaluate each use case and identify your workforce management requirements. How many team members will be needed to serve each use case? This is where your budget and forecasting knowledge will come into consideration. If this isn’t a strength of yours then find someone to help you. This is very important!

Whether you’re close to getting back to business or not you can start thinking about this now.

Rebuild Your “People Assets”

You likely have time to build the things you always pushed to the aside and thought,

“I don’t have the time right now.”

I would be refining your job descriptions, interview structure, training material and onboarding procedures.

Once you’re able to start building the company again these assets will be invaluable to rebuilding your team. By simply asking yourself, 

“What do I like about our [name of asset] and what do I want to change?” will propel you to recreate them. For example, you may want to update the interview questions you ask for your customer service candidates.

Build the Speech of a Lifetime

When the event that caused your team to be dismantled passes you will need to reach out to the team that was temporarily laid off. I find that there will be three groups of team members.

Group 1: They will rejoin you enthusiastically and without question.

Group 2: Some will need “the speech.”

Group 3: Others will not return your calls or emails.

Group 1 is your most loyal team member but don’t assume that blind loyalty is a good thing. You still have an obligation to answer questions that they might have considered. This is an example of thoughtful leadership.

Group 2 needs its confidence in you rebuilt. Not all hope is lost they might just be a little cynical and hurt because of the event. They also are the type not to draw on conclusions without evidence. They might be speaking to other team members and saying,

“Let’s hear what they have to say…”

When you return “the speech” should be given in-person if it’s feasible to gather everyone together or done virtually.

Group 3 likely won’t be rejoining your company and may not respond back to your phone call or email. Regardless, you should still try to reach out to them three times and let them know what the next steps include. If you hosted a virtual call, you may choose to share it with them so they can review it. Don’t be upset or take it personally if these team members don’t rejoin you.

The presentation you deliver to your team should include several discussion items, such as:

  • 3, 6 and 12-month plans.
  • What decisions were made and why you made them.
  • Highlight individuals who helped keep the company alive.
  • Reinstill confidence in the business and industry

Protect Them

When your team has been rebuilt you’re going to be excited to carry on with sales, business development and rebuilding the business.

I’d recommend this but find a balance between ensuring that you build the business and re-establishing the trust between your leadership and employees. 

One effective way to do this is to make more time on your calendar. For example, 9am – 10am is reserved for meeting with team members one on one if you’re a small company or a few employees at once if you’re a medium to large size company. You’re listening to them actively and answering questions confidently during this time.

This pandemic will pass and so will the next event that causes disruption to your team and company.

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