How to Establish Purpose Across a Team

Julia was working quickly, but there were times when it seemed she was going oh, so, slow.

“Sometimes, you have to go slow so you can go fast,” she explained. As a new manager, working with a veteran crew, she had some significant hurdles to overcome. And the team had some significant changes to make. Though the volume in their department was growing, their profitability was sinking to barely break-even. This whole service line was in trouble.

“We have to make some changes and we have to make them fast. But first, I have to build a platform to make those changes.” Julia was firm in her belief about the steps she was taking.

“So, tell me about the slow part?” I asked.

“Instead of arguing about the way we do things, I have to establish discussions of purpose. I started with Ralph, then two other guys who have been around a while, then the rest of the team. All the conversations were different, but they all ended up in the same place. I got every team member to talk about a significant project and why it was important. In each conversation, I wrote the essence of the story on a 3×5 index card. Tomorrow, I am going to use that as leverage.”

One thought on “How to Establish Purpose Across a Team

  1. Armando Soto

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your expert advise on such important topics. I have a question: how does authority style fits on this equation? specially when you are new to a group with old habits and reputation for rejecting authority? this can be a both positive and negative, in my opinion, depending on how strong and yet flexible the new manager is. And yes, I agree to the fact that purpose should unify the group, regardless of their particular functions and beliefs.



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