Building a Core Recovery Team

Successful recovery is the product of a team effort. A team structure for the recovery process is essential, at the heart of which is the core recovery team. In this section of the site you can learn about:


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Keys to putting the recovery team together
Tasks for the recovery team

Keys to Putting the Team Together

Look for successful models in your organization. If you have a team structure that works well for budgeting or long-term financial planning, consider using that structure.

Define needed roles. Establish the roles you will have on the recovery team. In addition to the leader, most recovery teams will need people in at least the following roles: finance expert, human resources expert, operations/program expert, and communications specialist (stakeholder management). Governments with important connections to other governments may also need a specialist in intergovernmental relations.

Identify potential participants
. Ideally, the senior management team will become the recovery team. However, this may not always be possible. The leader must identify which senior managers can contribute to the recovery process. Those chosen for the team must be analytical, good communicators, and not change-adverse. They must be able to deal with the fact that cutbacks may be required and be able to think and plan from an organization-wide (rather than a departmental) perspective. They must also be able to take criticism and remain determined in adverse circumstances.

The team might also identify good analysts who are not senior managers to be fungible resources that the team can call upon as the
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need arises.

Consider the role elected officials will have on the team, if any
. The level of elected official involvement will depend on the organizational culture and preferences of the board. For example, some organizations may have a well defined policy/administration separation such that a team composed of just staff would be a better fit. In this case, elected officials should still have a role in the process, as described on the elected officials page of this site. If it does fit the culture, elected officials can be good additions to the team because they have a sense for what is politically possible and have a special skill for championing solutions and shaping the debate in the public. Typically, only a few officials at most would be included in order to keep the team size manageable.

Make sure day-to-day operations are covered. Day-to-day services must be provided while the team does its work. Identify any risks to regular service delivery arising from focusing key staff on the recovery process and plan accordingly.

Consider the need for personnel replacements. In some cases, it may be necessary to replace personnel in order to form a solid team. Two situations to be alert for include the possibility of professional malpractice and the perpetual denial of a declining financial position.

Consider the need for legal advice. Legal expertise should be engaged early when large and complex issues are at stake. Examples include opening labor agreements, clarifying the legal authority of officials within the government, or making changes to revenues that are governed by state law.

Tasks for the Recovery Team

See the change and persuade others that it is the way to go. The recovery team must define a vision for what the financial recovery looks like and enlist others in supporting that vision. The recovery team should be sure to engage elected officials in defining the vision.

Provide leadership
. The recovery team can help perform all the duties and tasks described in the Recovery Leadership section of this site.

Develop “champions” outside of the team
. The recovery team will need help. It should find staff members who “get it” and involve them in the recovery process.

Provide guidance to other teams. A recovery process will likely entail the creation of other teams to help diagnose the situation and develop treatments. The core recovery team recruits, orients, and defines the mission for these teams.

Evaluate strategies and carry them forward. The recovery team evaluates potential strategies for recovery. Depending on the composition of the team, it may need to recommend these strategies to the board for final approval, but, in any event, the recovery team is the fulcrum for moving the strategies from idea to action.

Help manage any immediate financial crisis. The team makes and enforces decisions that have a direct impact on expenditures until any immediate crisis has passed. In particular, the team may need to take a central role in freezing expenditures such as outside hiring, promotions, and capital expenditures. The team also reviews and approves any proposed exceptions to the freezes.


Go on to Developing Other Teams