On larger, global initiatives consider one area of responsibility for team leads is to be a communication link between the management team and the team’s leads direct reports. The larger an initiative, the more individuals involved in it; which requires more effective communication to ensure success of the initiative. By having the team lead function as a communication link, it ensures that the right information is being shared at the right time from those doing the day-to-day work on the initiative up the ladder to leadership. This enables for finding issues early on and resolving them before they impact the initiative in a negative way. Let’s look at a couple of examples of a team lead taking on the role of communication link.
Abigail is one of five team leads on a cross-functional, global initiative for a software development company. She is reporting directly up to the VP of Technology. During a meeting of the team leads and the VP of Technology, Abigail learns that the timeline for the initiative is being pushed up to accommodate a request from a major client. She knows that this will impact her own team’s work. She meets with her team later that same afternoon to share that the timeline is being pushed up as well as the reason why for the change. Abigail asks her team to spend time working through how they might meet the new timeline and what it will mean in terms of resource needs to ensure a quality work product.
The next day, Abigail’s team informs her that they can make the new timeline but will need at least one additional resource for quality assurance. They also bring to her attention that this timeline will impact testing being done by others within the organization. They are concerned that this will be an issue for testing because it was already difficult to commit time for testing before the timeline was changed.
Abigail shared this information with the VP of Technology, as well as a few proposed suggestions to move forward. The additional resource was approved and the VP of Technology immediately reached out to his peers to secure commitment for testing resources to begin testing earlier than expected in order to meet the new timeline for delivery.
Celia is the team lead for a US-based initiative for a retail organization. She is one of three team leads. Celia is meeting with her team to check on progress. They tell her that they have found a better way to complete their component of the project. However, they are unsure if any changes they make will impact the other teams working on other components of the project and need Celia’s guidance. Celia meets first with the Director in charge of the initiative to share her team’s ideas and to let him know that she will be meeting with her peers to ensure they are on board and it will not impact them negatively. She will update the Director after that meeting.
Celia then meets with her peers to share the ideas of her team. While the change proposed will work well for one of her peers, another believes it may impact his team; however, he would like to get the two teams together to work it out as he likes Celia’s idea.
Celia and her peer get their teams together to discuss the proposed change. After just two hours, and a few minor tweaks to the proposed process, the two teams agree and are ready to move forward. Celia and her peer meet with the third peer to ensure his team is still on board and the minor tweaks will work for that team. There is agreement to move forward. The teams determine that this change will actually move the project timeline up by one week!
Celia and her peers meet with the Director in charge of the initiative and share the good news.
The most effective team leads not only manage their team’s efforts, but also share information between their peer team leads, their teams and their manager of the initiative. This enables for increased collaboration.
To enable for this communication and sharing, team leads should be meeting with the peers regularly to share what’s happening with their respective teams. On occasion, getting the teams together may also be of value.