How to Call Timeout, Regroup and Communicate More Effectively | Fierce

four co-workers gathered in an office setting call timeout to reset

High Performing teams know how to call timeout and reset when momentum turns.

Good coaches call timeouts. Especially during playoff and tournament play when a high-performing team begins losing momentum. Everyone can feel it. Perceptive coaches stop play, call timeout, and regroup the team to reset and create a plan to shift the advantage back in their direction.

During a game, momentum can shift quickly based on a variety of factors, such as a series of successful plays by the opposing team a string of mistakes made by the coach’s team, or a change in strategy by the other team. When momentum shifts against a team, it can lead to a loss of confidence, increased stress and frustration, and a sense of helplessness among players.

By calling a timeout, the coach can stop the game and regroup with their team. During the timeout, the coach may use the opportunity to make adjustments to their team’s strategy, motivate players, or make substitutions. The timeout also allows players to catch their breath, refocus, and regroup mentally.

Yes, calling a timeout and resetting is an essential skill for high-performing teams 

But how often in a work environment do we hold up the time-out and call for a reset?

Just like in athletics, timeouts provide an opportunity for teams to pause, reflect, and adjust their strategies to address challenges and obstacles that arise during their work. They allow team members to step back, re-assess the situation, and make informed decisions that can help them achieve their goals.

Timeouts also give team members a chance to regroup and communicate more effectively. When a team is facing a difficult problem or challenge, emotions can run high, and it can be hard to stay focused and productive. A well-timed timeout can help team members calm down, re-focus, and get back on track.

In addition to calling timeouts, high-performing teams also know how to reset. Resetting means taking a step back and re-evaluating the team’s goals, strategies, and processes. It’s an opportunity to reflect on what’s working and what’s not and make adjustments accordingly. Resetting can help teams stay aligned, improve their performance, and continue to work together effectively over the long term.

Overall, calling timeouts and resetting are essential skills for high-performing teams. They enable teams to stay focused, productive, and effective in the face of challenges and obstacles and ensure that they continue to work together cohesively and achieve their goals.

How to know when to call a timeout?

If you are an intuitive leader, you probably feel it. Things aren’t going well. Deadlines are being missed. Morale is beginning to bottom out, and you sense grumbling and complaining among team members. If you wait too long, it may become more apparent with true emotional conflict erupting among teammates. 

Sometimes we don’t communicate enough with our teams and have opportunities for feedback. This makes us blind to what is happening under the service. Establishing regular feedback conversations allows you to monitor the pulse of your team’s performance and the attitudes that underlie their action.  

How to Implement an Effective Team Time-Out

In the military, they perform something called an After Action Review (AAR). Typically these are used to evaluate the success or failure of a mission, analyze the performance of the troops and identify opportunities for improvement. While the context and objectives of military missions are quite different from those of business teams, the AAR process can still be applied in a meaningful way especially when you need a time-out.

Spend time in reflection

AARs encourage a culture of continuous improvement, where team members are encouraged to reflect on their performance and identify areas for improvement. This same mentality can be applied to business teams, where employees are encouraged to reflect on their work and identify ways to improve their processes, communication, and teamwork.

Encourage honest feedback

AARs encourage troops to provide honest feedback on their performance and the performance of their team. In business, this same level of honesty can be applied to encourage team members to provide constructive feedback to each other, identify areas where they need support or improvement, and work collaboratively to solve problems.

Focus on the objective

AARs in the military focus on the mission objective and how the team performed in achieving that objective. Similarly, high-performing business teams should focus on the objectives of their projects, products, or services, and assess how well they are achieving them. By keeping the focus on the objective, the team can identify areas where they need to improve and set goals for the future.

Take action

AARs are not just a retrospective exercise, they are also designed to identify actionable insights that can be used to improve performance. Similarly, high-performing business teams can use AARs to identify actionable insights that can be used to improve their processes, communication, and teamwork.

Have fun

This probably isn’t part of the military’s AAR process, however taking time away from the office for a much-needed break is a good way to reset your team. They need time to enjoy being a team again. This could be planned team-building activities or merely a day doing something enjoyable together. A small break together can be enough to get momentum and energy back on the team.


Just like athletics, calling timeouts and resetting are crucial skills for high-performing teams in the workplace. They provide an opportunity for teams to pause, reflect, and adjust their strategies to overcome challenges and obstacles. Knowing when to call a timeout is essential, and regular feedback conversations can help leaders monitor their team’s performance and attitudes

Take time for team reflection, embrace honest feedback, and don’t lose sight of the ultimate objectives. Take action, and don’t forget to have some fun. By incorporating these strategies, teams will stay focused, productive, and effective in achieving their goals.

Share This