A Playbook for Successful Team Transitions

Linda Dulye's picture

ChangeOrganizational initiatives and projects, large or small, are driven by teams. Both are driven by change.

Change in leadership, change in scope or change in team members. What happens during and after the change is a delicate period of time: the transition.

Dan Clemens, a successful youth baseball coach, author and Dulye & Co. team member, wrote recently about 10 tips to ensure a successful team transition. Though he wrote in the context of coaching a team of young players, we think his message resonates inside organizations as well.

Here are some of Dan's tips. As you read, substitute "family" or "parents" with department, work groups or leaders:

  • Get Clear. Know what you want and what you don't. You'll be asked scores of questions and parents will try to persuade you to do what's best for them. Only with clarity in your own thinking can you successfully navigate these waters without pulling out your hair.
  • Communicate Clearly. Try to have everyone hear the same thing at the same time. They may walk away with different impressions, but using precise language and explaining things several times in different ways will help convey a consistent meaning.
  • Explain. Explain your rationale for your decisions. People may not agree with the outcome, but if they understand your logic, they're more likely to accept it and move on.
  • Have Tough Skin. You're going to hear things about your motives, your decisions, your family. Some won't be fair and some won't be pretty. Stay above it.
  • Avoid Rumors. You'll hear the good, the bad, and the ugly about you, your decisions and maybe even your family. Most of it is petty, and the people you care about aren't going to believe the trash anyway. Take the high road and don't engage - there's no way to win that battle.
  • Dodge Emotions. Some people will react emotionally if they don't get their way. It's not fair to you, but fear and anger can push an otherwise pleasant and rational adult into an emotionally charged rage akin to a mother grizzly protecting her cubs. Let them vent (or don't) and move on. Arguments solve nothing, especially after the decision has been made.

Whether it's hardball on the sandlot or in the workplace, these tips apply universally. Here's more from Clemens including the other tips.


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