Using Managerial Transitions to Build Stronger Teams – Part 1

Congratulations – you’re now managing the team!  Perhaps you are a new manager, or maybe you’ve taken on a different managerial role, and you find yourself facing a group – only they are your group, your people, your team…  and they expect you to be their leader.

So if management really is about achieving things through other people, what does that mean when you are leading your team?  How do you go about building the team for which you have just become responsible?

This blog series will explore some practical ways you can go about building your team.  But first, an introduction into why building stronger teams is something that should get your attention from the start of your transition into your new role…

 Becoming an Effective Manager
“Management is responsibility for the performance of the group of people. It’s a simple idea… To carry out this responsibility, you must influence others, which means you must make a difference not only in what they do but in the thoughts and feelings that drive their actions.”
Hill and Lineback 
Being the Boss p.14
At the heart of management lies a paradox – while you may now have the responsibility and accountability for being the manager, you can only be successful in your role through the performance of the people that work with you and for you. In their recent book “Being the Boss”, Hill and Lineback identify managing your team as one of only three imperatives that are essential for managers to master (the other two items are Managing Yourself, and Managing Your Network).
How Building Your Team Will Help You Be Successful
In today’s work, we face challenges and opportunities that require collective attention.  A manager can no longer afford to manage the people reporting to them on a linear, sequential basis – you have to engage them together, to tackle issues collectively.
© iceteaimages –
So you will have to face the question – are the people working with you a real team?   Or are they merely a group of people who somehow coordinate their individual efforts?  The latter situation is unlikely to enable the creative work and tough discussions needed to show results on complex issues.
“A team is a group of people who do collective work and are mutually committed to a common team purpose and challenging goals related to that work.”
Hill and Lineback p.137
This definition from Hill and Lineback shares many characteristics with other definitions of real teams, including:


  • collective work
  • mutual commitment
  • a common,  worthwhile purpose
  • specific and challenging team goals
By defining and agreeing on the collective work, the team is more easily able to focus its efforts towards specific team goals, while the individual members gain the sense that they are working on something that is worthwhile.  Committed to one another for how they will do this work, real teams exhibit greater self-motivation and stamina to deal with the inevitable setbacks and disappointments.

This also provides a foundation for the team to get very practical on the important matters of:

  • its purpose and goals/deliverables
  • its roles and processes

Benefits of Common Purpose and Goals

Defining the future fosters commitment within your team by bringing purpose to its work.

Benefits that flow from having a clearly defined future/plan include:

  • there is increased commitment when the work of the team is imbued with purpose
  • everyone  on the team has a common goal and direction
  • everyone on the team is focused on what’s important
  • being focused on clear goals heightens the team’s trust and influence
  • a  common vision of the future reduces conflict
  • a clearly defined goal is critical to the success of virtual teams
Clarity on Roles, Processes, and Progress

As the manager, you want to influence the culture of the team by ensuring that:

  • there is clarity about individual roles– who does what and how each role contributes to the team’s purpose and goals
  • there is clarity about how the team does its work  – work systems, practices, and processes
  • there is clarity about how team members work together  – the values and practices of collaboration that guide interaction among group members
  • there is clarity about progress  – feedback for the team and for individual members about both work results and how well the group is functioning as a team
So we recognize that these are important and necessary things to develop in your teams.

This blog series will provide you with descriptions of a large number of ways in which you can bring about this common purpose and clarity with your teams.

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