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Transition Management – What do you need to know about me?

I recently worked with a faculty member and part of our discussion focused on a new person joining the department that was also going to be sharing office space. We discussed how addressing expectations and making decisions about how to work in the same office space could be very helpful to set up the work for success. The moving of offices and changes in work space are a routine issue here at the university as people join, leave and sometimes just move work space; however, my sense is that discussing expectations is not directly addressed. Let me encourage you to address it and here’s one tool that could be helpful – its “What do you need to know about me?”

This tool is based on work I did with some college soccer teams back in the mid 2000’s when each year the team was reforming. How to jumpstart team building was the question and a colleague (Bill Sanford, then with Team Achievement) and I came up with “What do you need to know about me?”

We convened a full team meeting, gave a sheet of “big paper” to each player along with a marker and the instruction was to share what your teammates needed to know in order to help support you to be the best player and teammate you could be. Players took their sheets, taped them to the wall and started writing. Once this phase completed, we invited all players to walk around, read the sheets and add items that they thought would also be helpful.

Players wrote things like – “don’t talk to me before a game as I get mentally ready” or “I like loud music to get me going” or “play me balls to my left as that’s my stronger foot” and the list goes on. Players were encouraged to chat as they walked around and many commented – “I didn’t know that about you” or “I need to add something to this list!”

As we wrapped up this team building transition exercise, the players had a great time learning new things about their old and new teammates. The players decided to post the sheets in their locker room for the time being in order to remind each other of the items listed and to keep adding as things presented. This team hit the ground running (literally) as they now knew and had an ongoing way to share information to support success.

Let’s translate this to your “team” ! One of the constants at NC State University and, I’d venture at all organizations, is that there are new teammates each year! Universities are almost always in transition in some manner, shape and form. Such transition can create an always “stormy” environment per Bruce Tuchman’s stages of group development – Form – Storm – Norm – Perform – Adjourn. University units, departments, centers (you name it) are in some ways always forming, storming, norming all the while trying to perform .

Thus, transition management is key to success and help your teammates share information for success. This generally does not happen on its own. If you are a manager, supervisor or any leader make it intentional and create a space for this type of exploration. If you need help, you can contact the Learning and Organizational Development folks at Central HR or contact the ombuds to get started.

Go Team!