The Art of Strengths Coaching

I is for Meeting Individuals When Taking Over A Team

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Imagine you are taking over an existing team. Let’s assume you have a clear brief and mandate from your sponsors.

The next step will be to meet the team members. How can you get to know each person’s strengths? How can you show that you expect them to take responsibility?

Start by having a short meeting with the whole team. Create a good atmosphere, introduce yourself and begin to set the tone.

Explain that you obviously have clear goals for the team, but that you would also like their input. You will therefore be having one-to-one sessions with each person.

Here are some steps you can take before, during and after these sessions.

You can invite each person to do some
pre-work before the one-to-one session

Explain that before the sessions you would like each person to do some pre-work. While it will be okay to cover other topics, this will provide a starting point for the discussion.

You will be asking them to focus on the following topics. Here is the complete pack you can send them, together with the introduction explaining the exercises.

This seems like a lot of work. But it has proved very successful – and revealing – for many leaders who have used the pack as the basis for their first one-to-one with team members.

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You can have a one-to-one
session with each person

Start by making the person feel welcome. Set the scene by repeating what you said at the team meeting.

You obviously have views on the team’s goals, but you want their input. You also want to get to know them, their strengths and their best contribution. They will also have the opportunity to ask any questions and you will answer these as far as possible.

Encourage the person to explain their pre-work. This gives you the chance:

To see how much effort they have put into the task.

To encourage them to think strategically about the team’s future.

To begin understanding their strengths.

Listen to the person, answer any questions and build your understanding of their potential contribution.

Continue by explaining the next stage in the process of building a super team. After clarifying the team’s picture of success – which will include people’s input – the whole team will be invited to make it happen.

You will follow-up with another one-to-one session to finalise each person’s part in achieving the goals.

It is then time to move onto the next step.

You can start making decisions about
each person’s contribution to the team

Reflect on the individual sessions. Ask yourself the following questions.

“Who do I definitely want in the team? Who might I want in the team? Who don’t I want in the team and how can I find replacements?

“Looking at the people I want in the team, what are their strengths? What would be their best contribution?

“How can I co-ordinate people’s strengths to achieve the goals? How can I fill the remaining gaps?”

The next step will be to make clear contracts about each person’s contribution to the team. You will have laid the foundations for this when meeting them in the one-to-one sessions.

You will, of course, make decisions about people in your own way. If you wish, however, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to have fruitful one-to-one sessions with individuals when taking over a team.

Describe the specific things you can then do to make decisions about the future composition of the team.

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