Building successful teams in the midst of transition

McKee, Thomas

The quality or state of being profound; thoughtful, philosophical, or deep matters

Some people seem to thrive on change. How do they do it? How do they manage change in a way that they not only survive, but also excel? They seem to make change work for them. Martin Luther King Jr., Margaret Thatcher, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Mother Teresa-with resolute courage and determination-stood squarely in the center of change and controversy. These great leaders created their own opportunities to fight for their beliefs. This is the challenge and opportunity for each of us.

One of the most significant essentials for success during transition is team building. Leaders that can challenge, motivate, and empower their teams through change are successful. Most change disrupts teamwork. The leaders who can keep their work teams focused during changes will have organizations and businesses that thrive. Health care and banking are two industries, among many others, that are experiencing dramatic change at this time. For example, American River Bank is a growing and profitable bank in Sacramento, CA. Several years ago they were experiencing significant growth and purchased another bank. One of the changes that affected them was the integration of bank officers from two different systems. The question was raised, “How do you effectively merge two banking teams?”

President Bill Young effectively built a team that did not just survive change but thrived on it. Breakfast meetings and special training sessions on the importance and role of team players in the midst of transition were conducted. I remember the high energy during these sessions as work teams were synergized. The bank has continued to grow and has a positive reputation in the Sacramento business community.

When taking a team through transitional times, we emphasize the following five essentials, which are listed in the order they should be addressed. Each builds on the preceding essential. Get one out of place and you disrupt the team.

Essential One: Knowledge

Successful businesses today focus on knowledge workers. Knowledge workers are entrepreneurialvisionary and creative. They look at their job as a business and serve other workers in the company as their customers. Knowledge is the foundation to vision.

Is your company a learning organization? Does it believe that systems thinking is fundamental? Is a climate fostered that encourages, rewards, and enhances individual and collective learning? Are surprises, mistakes, and failures viewed as learning opportunities? Is a desire for continuous improvement and renewal present? Is learning integrated with work?

Essential Two: A Focused Vision

Your team must have a unified mission-not one for the customers, but one for the staff, and it must be developed and owned by the staff. Knowledge provides the foundation for vision.

Essential Three. Faith

Doubt and skepticism will erode the team spirit. The dynamic team must have a strong faith and trust in the mission. Faith is no stronger than the truth of its assumptions; therefore, faith must be built on knowledge and vision.

Essential Four. Initiative

How do you motivate your staff to do their part? You don’t. Motivation is an inside job; it is internal. Therefore, daily initiative comes from making sure each person is doing the part of the whole that he/she can best contribute to the overall mission. Initiative without knowledge, vision, and faith is misguided energy-just a dream.

Essential Five. Training and Development

Jerry Rice of the Oakland Raiders practices catching 100 balls a day with one hand. You would think that after playing professional football for more than 15 years, he would know how to catch a football, right? But he gives himself to constant skill development. Great teams are made up of knowledge workers who have a focused vision, believe in their mission, and empower each other with their initiative and skill development.

Tom McKee, a leading change management speaker, is recognized as one of today’s foremost international authorities on transition management. He has authored successful books including, They Don’t Play My Music Anymore- How to Plan Your Future When the World Keeps Changing and How to Make the

Team Work a supervisor training manual for new managers. Currently he is hard at work on his third book, Maintaining Life Balance. He can be reached at .

Copyright Association for Quality and Participation Spring 2003

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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