To build a team we must be rowing in the same direction

Earlier this year our Rail division went through some changes and Bruce Wakeling, our Operations Director for London and Midlands, was asked to take over the Northern Rail business aswell. Bruce had developed a strong culture (known as the Friendly Division) in his region so I asked him to write a guest post explaining how he will take this culture and engage with a new arm to this team. How will he change his culture and how will he get colleagues on board with a new leader – over to Bruce:

I was delighted to be asked to head up the newly enlarged London, Midlands and North Region. It is my belief that if I work on engaging people and putting a smile on their face when they come to work they will do a great job.

The mission, vision and values of the Friendly Division have been a key factor in engaging the current team behind being the best division, giving our customers a great experience and engaging internal and external customers to help us drive performance.

I was acutely aware that imposing the Friendly Division onto a new team might not be seen as engaging but more as a takeover. To this end I took the team away on a two-day meeting to allow them to bond but also to allow the old and new teams to come up with the Mission, Vision and Values for the new division.

I have a belief that by setting clear expectations you can hold people accountable but people have to buy in to the expectations and feel that they have input to the plan if you are to get true engagement.

The agenda for the two days consisted of 5 key areas.

1. Getting to know the team

2. Leading them to create our team culture

3. Agreeing our ways of working

4. Removing any baggage or roadblocks from previous teams

5. Agreeing Wildly Important Goals for the year ahead

I purposely finished day 1 early so the team could spend time bonding and getting to know each other and I also left the evening event early so they could bond as a team without having to consider what they were saying in front of the boss.

On the second day the team really started to work well together having got to know each other better over golf, tennis, swimming and dinner. We left the two days with a clear plan and an engaged team behind a clear strategy.

The next few weeks will see who is on board and who has the capability to deliver in the year ahead, but I am confident that the new team will support each other and work well towards shared goals and this years target.

For the Friendly Culture to really take hold I need to be visible and touch as many of our front line people as I can. Recognising and rewarding where possible, but also clearly explaining what good looks like and what support is out there to help deliver it.

When spending time with my new team I am looking at their commercial awareness and the decisions they are making around people, sales and profit and offering support to develop them and their business performance.

The final piece in the jigsaw is around accountability and making some tough decisions. If people are not in the boat then they need to get out of it quickly as it is essential that everyone is rowing in the same direction.

That completes my guest blog. Please let me have your thoughts.

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