3 Truths About Teams and Change

3_truths_about_team_change (1)You have likely heard of growing pains that accompany progress – but the truth is that, for teams, the greatest pain that will be experienced is from those who refuse to change and adapt to each other, to their competition, or to the market they are a part of.

Our world – and your corner of it, is always evolving – and that requires us to continually improve and adapt to maintain or increase our productivity.

If you are not improving, you are stagnating and falling behind others who ARE willing and interested in how to get better.

Your team likely has a busy season and an off-season.

For athletes, there is a clear and definite division between preseason and in-season activity.

For businesses, depending upon your area of focus, there is likely also a period of the year when you are busier with customers, and then a period of time when you have more opportunity to focus on growth.

Improvement or change for teams, even in their “off-season,” is not mechanical or immediate, though. True team improvement is very much gradual and organic.

Teams are like trees that must expend energy on establishing a strong root system during the winter and spring to support plentiful fruit production in the summer and fall.

Have you and your team made a commitment to strengthen your root system and build better relationships amongst yourselves and your customers?

Without a strong root system, your organization is much more likely to be toppled over by unexpected storms… but with a strong root system of relationships, your team will be able to weather most any adversity together.

Teams seldom can feel or see the growth as they experience it – but on reflection, much like seeing a tree from one year to the next, they will notice a marked difference between their old selves and their new and improved communication or leadership behaviors.

So what are the three thoughts that will help you to welcome and appreciate the team change and improvements that you are working toward?

Always remember that team change is internal, inevitable, and incremental.:

1. Change is always internal

Change may be influenced by the introduction of an external catalyst – whether it is our present unacceptable circumstances or others’ inspiring suggestions – but all change takes place internally as a decision to be better than we are. Those decisions are not visible, but like a strong root system, once they have taken hold they will eventually produce much fruit. What others see in our behaviors or countenance is always preceded by internal growth.

2. Change is always inevitable

Change is not something you can hide from. You are either growing or rotting. You are either feeding the roots or starving them. The only real choice is whether you will embrace change and take control of your future, or whether you will allow yourself to atrophy and eventually be controlled by others. In a crowded forest, the trees that grow the tallest always get the most sunlight and thrive… you can either thrive with ambition, or wither in the shade, but there is no such thing as staying the same.

3. Change is always incremental

Change often is difficult to see until you have the perspective of time. Just as plants or trees do not look much different from one day to the next, so also do we as teammates or leaders seldom display significant changes in our behaviors. Instead, it is by looking back at snapshots of our previous selves that we can more clearly see the differences between our present and past selves.


If you are currently seeking to grow your people and your organization, realize that the fruits you desire will likely not be produced without the patient efforts of nourishment and time.

Continue to feed your team a grand vision and positive encouragement.

Continue to set high expectations of effort and define clear roles.

Most importantly, continue to take snapshots of your team performance – and be patient with their growth cycle. Just as the lesson from the bamboo plant suggests, it takes time for visible and significant change to occur.

And the great results – once a strong root system of relationships and skills is established – will be undeniable!

You might want to take a look at Sean’s handout – the 5 C’s for successful change.  And if you liked this article, you will want to request free access to Sean’s Teamwork Toolbox – over 50 useful handouts and activities for smart team leaders!

If your people need a fun day of team building to act as a catalyst for that change, contact Sean about an event or interactive speaking topic to inspire your organization.