No matter how good you are, your fortunes in any organisation depend on your team’s performance. Unless you are in a start-up it’s unlikely that you will get a chance to build your team from scratch. You will more than likely inherit someone else’s and the chances are that some of the team members will fit your world view and some won’t. That’s just life.
Let’s look at our friend the football manager. If he has inherited a team, he will spend the first few months assessing what he has and who fits his approach and philosophy. Some areas require immediate action, and some can wait. Erik Ten Hag didn’t waste any time in dropping Harry Maguire for Lisandro Martinez when he assumed the reins at Manchester United. Alex Ferguson, who previously held the same role to universal acclaim, didn’t waste his time in getting rid of the club boozers when he took over back in 1986. Sooner or later the successful managers put their own teams in place.
How many managers in other walks of life wind up getting sucked into the weeds of an operation because their teams are either not fit for purpose or have not been trained properly? Ferguson was 45 when he took the job and Ten Hag was 52 when he was appointed last year. The majority of players retire in their early thirties. It should be obvious that the manager can’t do the job for them so he needs a crew who are going to be able to implement his vision on the field.
Here are a few things to consider when you are newly promoted and taking over a team:
1. Type of Team and Skillset
What type of team are you inheriting? Is it a management team or even a board? Could it be a project team which is set up for a finite period to achieve a particular goal? Or is it client-facing, like a sales team, which is fast moving and heavily results focused? Each of these team types are different and will require people with different skill sets and motivations. Clarify what the objective of each team is and what skill set is necessary to accomplish it. Alex Ferguson wouldn’t have won anything if he didn’t get the balance right between players who were creatively minded and those who were better defensively. Likewise, your executive team won’t be breaking records if you have an operations-focused individual performing a marketing role.
Once you’ve worked out the team’s objective, and the skill set required, you can settle down and assess what you have at your disposal. Work out appropriate assessment criteria such as competence, trust, team work, creativity and endurance.
Bit by bit you’ll form an impression of your team through their results as well as observing them in the white heat of battle. This will help you decide on who is worth keeping, moving, training or replacing. Expect to have a definitive diagnosis on your team by the end of your transition along with a plan for moving people on and sourcing replacements. Consult the relevant people such as internal human resource and legal professionals while you are carrying this out.
3. Balance the Scales
You’ll be eager to move quickly and get your ideal people in place, but remember that the performance of your operation will be impacted by the stability of your team. Move too quickly and it could be hard to find replacements. Prune the wrong people and some of those you value could jump ship.
I could fill up an entire website on the subject of teams and if you check back here this time next year there’s a good chance that you’ll find that I have done so.
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