launch a new team

hand over to a new team leader


This series of short posts explores more deeply the Nine Team Moments that Matter when you, as a team leader, may need to pay extra attention to the needs and performance of your team. We identified these moments by blending our review of the research into high performing teams and our more than two decades of working with teams as internal and external consultants / coaches.

Moment 4: A new team leader

For most non-project organisational teams, at some point in time a new team leader will come board. This is clearly a Team Moment that Matters, as any change in leadership can be disruptive. In this deep dive we examine how you might manage such a hand over.

Now before get into specifics, it is important to be aware that a new leader should work through the same checklist or thought process that we shared in our first Team Moments that Matter article – Forming a Team. Further, the first session with the team should be viewed as a relaunch and could cover some of the items shared in our second article – Launch a New Team.

Case study of a new team leader

We were working with a functional leadership team for a national communications company when, during our engagement, it was announced that there would be a change in the leadership. Putting aside the reasons for the change, I focused on how to create an environment of ending and a new beginning.

So what did we do…

During the last facilitated team session with the existing team leader, we created a timeline capturing the key events of the team during the tenure of the outgoing team leader. In an interactive and visually creative way, the team celebrated their achievements, milestones and remembered some of the trials along the way.

Creating a bridge between the end and new beginning was important. Together we created an opportunity for each member of the team to express how they felt about the impending change. I encouraged them to share both their hopes and concerns for the future.

A tip that was shared with me by my colleague Dr Krister Lowe from 6 Team Conditions, was for the team to create a ‘gift’ for the new team leader. A booklet that included what the new leader needs to know about this team: what encourages them to work as a team, and as individuals, at their best, what they are each known for on this team and what they ask of the new team leader.

New team leader

Working with the new team leader…

Before the relaunch session with the new team leader, we updated him on the team journey to date. We also had a ‘sparring conversation’ that covered many of the questions covered in the forming a new team checklist previously shared. It was important that he was clear on what he saw as the short-term direction for the team, his 90-day goals and how he intended to re-launch the team. 

At that relaunch, we created the space for the new team leader to share his history, his values, his hopes and what he saw as the challenges stepping into the new role. The team was also able to ask any and all questions about the new appointment, killing or confirming any rumours that had started to surface. We also had the team hand over their ‘present’ and had a dialogue as a team about how they would work together going forward with the new team leader.

I believe that real teams do real work … together. For that reason we quickly moved to the upcoming work of the team. As a new leader he had the luxury to go around the organisation and gather feedback on the performance of the function before the meeting. We used this to trigger a further piece of work where every team member interviewed key stakeholders (not their own stakeholders) through a lens of change and opportunity. This proved to be a very powerful exercise and many of the teams’ stakeholders appreciated the opportunity to provide their feedback to the team. Remember, stakeholder satisfaction is a key way of measuring team effectiveness.

The above showed how by having a clear, proper and respectful ending, this team was better able to welcome their new team leader in a productive and supportive way.

Sometimes it is not the team leader that changes but the context within which the team operates. This will be the topic of our next Team Moments that Matter deep dive.    

Are you about to become a new team leader?

Reach out and we would be happy to explore how you and your team can best make this transition. 

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