Ready to lead your high-performing team to new levels? Call a Time Out!


In your fast-paced role as a leader of a high-performing team, it may be hard to imagine that one of the secrets to achieving breakthrough team performance at work can be found in the pages of a typical sports coaches’ playbook:  Call a Team Time Out.

A conscious, focused, well-structured team time out includes four simple steps:

1 – Change the CONTEXT

Take people out of their normal way of operating

Whether you arrange a team lunch outside of the office, or a multi-day offsite meeting in a different city or resort location, the key is to create an experience that takes team members temporarily out of their normal work environments, routines, and roles.

When calendars are cleared and team members are allowed to focus on each other, they have the freedom to step back, get to know each other better, and imagine and practice new ways of interacting. They have time and permission to relax, have fun, and open up to deeper connections with each other and creative solutions for their work together.


Introduce relevant new skills and information

Smart, capable, accomplished people love to learn. The right information or new skills at the right time can be the catalyst that energizes a group and allows them to see new ways to reach and stretch further.

The solution to the challenges most teams face is not to overwhelm them with new information. The secret lies in finding the specific skills or key information that will help them do more with what they already have, or resolve specific challenges that are keeping them from doing their best work together.

3 – Facilitate COLLABORATION

Create opportunities for meaningful connections and conversations

When people have relaxed time in informal settings to deepen their connections, that’s often when they start to spontaneously collaborate, share ideas back and forth, and generate new solutions to existing challenges.

Create opportunities for authentic conversations that go way beyond small talk and surface niceties.  Invite people to talk about what’s important to them, what they bring and hope to contribute to the team. Encourage them to hear and appreciate their team members, to see clearly what they share in common and discover each other’s unique talents, perspectives and potential.


Create new clarity and invite commitment to what’s next

Done well, these first three steps lead to new clarity and commitment among team members. This is the best insurance that your investment in time, money, and energy will pay off, and the learning will be carried forward.

Team members see and appreciate their collective strengths and are inspired to use them to move forward together to accomplish more than ever before. They are each able to identify and clearly articulate their commitment to the future success of the team. They see a clear path forward and know what the must each do to achieve breakthrough performance.

*This article was originally published on Ann Marie's Blog in 2016.