Using Managerial Transitions to Build Stronger Teams – Part 3

This blog series looks at how you, as a manager transitioning into a new department or team, can use the opportunity of the transition to foster stronger teams.

The first post served as an introduction to why having stronger teams will help you be more effective as a manager.  We promote the idea of real teams that are aligned with the business goals you are tackling.

The second post introduced 3 team processes that you can use to assess your team and start building it into a stronger, more aligned team.  These activities were:
1) Conduct a Team Assessment
2) Align with the Team Sponsor Expectations
3) Convene a Team Charter Workshop

Today’s post introduces the next four activities with which your team might engage in the process of becoming a real team.

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As a reminder – a number of these activities can fruitfully be combined with others.  Many of the activities will benefit from professional facilitation, and you should engage a suitably experienced professional facilitator for this (contact us for information on how to find professional facilitators around the world).

4.    Establish Clear Goals and Roles
While a shared team purpose is important, it is also critical that the team have specific and challenging Team Goals.  These are goals towards which the whole team contributes.
A powerful technique is to create a “Line of Sight Chart.”  This can mobilize the team’s focus by visualizing how their work will lead to sustained change, or results. Similar to a Results Chain, this chart reveals the Means–to–End logic by which the Goals are linked to deliver results.
Once the team has identified clear and shared Goals, you can develop a plan or a ‘Road Map’ for how they will be achieved.  This ‘Road Map’ focuses on the major steps in reaching the goals, and considers the time and resources required.
The Goals and the ‘Road Map’ make it much easier for the team to discuss Roles.  It will become more evident how the work will be divided, with named individuals, working in interaction with others, responsible for specific aspects of the plan.

5.    Review and Update Team Processes
While you, as the new manager, have been taking a fresh look at the team’s existing processes, other team members may not have looked critically at how the team operates.  Starting with the current business situation, the team should consider how well the current team processes (such as team meetings, decision-making processes, leadership styles, and participant roles) are aligned with the requirements for acting effectively. 
The outcome of this review process will be that the current processes are validated as appropriate, or you have identified and agreed on necessary changes. The benefits of this review is for the team to be clear as to why it does things in a particular way.

6.    Working with Remote Staff: Face to Face Workshops
You may well have staff working in remote locations from where you are based.  Though you, as the manager, will have the opportunity to travel and meet them in their work places, this does not benefit the team.  Multiple research studies have established beyond a doubt that effective virtual teams are characterized by solid relationships among team members, and these result from team members spending time together working through purpose, goals, roles and team processes.
It is important to make the investment in building a coherent and strong team, despite the cost of bringing the entire team to one location.  And these in-person meetings need to be repeated periodically (at least once a year) to allow team bonds to endure and strengthen.  These periodic meetings will also provide an opportunity to integrate any new members who have joined the team since its last face-to-face meeting.  By using a professional facilitator to design and run the meeting, the manager is able to engage as a participant.

7.    Working with Remote Staff: Virtual Workshops
There may be times when it is just not possible to bring the whole team together from the different places where members are based.  Or there may be a long delay before the face-to-face meeting can take place.
A good alternative to the face-to-face meeting in such a situation is to convene a Virtual Workshop.  This is not just another virtual meeting, which may be fairly common already for the team.  A Virtual Workshop is a structured and deliberate effort to replicate aspects of a traditional face-to-face meeting in an online environment.  It might involve a series of extended sessions (each one being two to four hours in duration) that tackles an ambitious agenda, such as developing a Team Charter.
A description of a Virtual Workshop is available through this link.  Consultants experienced in virtual workshops can play a critical role in designing and facilitating these workshops for maximum success.

So now you have 7 activities you can use and adapt to help your team become more effective.  The remaining posts in this series will cover further activities for building stronger teams during your managerial transition.

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