Mobilising a new team: a five step guide

5 min read

Setting up a new team can be a huge and overwhelming challenge. How can you ensure that you hit the ground running and don’t let your client down? How can you quickly build a collaborative and positive culture?

David Martin, Operations Director in Mace’s defence division, has tackled this challenge and is now heading up a flourishing team in Bristol. Here, he shares his views.

Plan for success

It might sound obvious, but the fundamental first step is to do your research and then plan based on your findings. This is even more important when treading new ground. Ultimately, you’re looking to identify the risks and opportunities so you can build your team and approach to meet the needs of the client and the project in the context of the region you’re working in.  

I took this approach when building a team targeted at growing Mace’s defence offering in the south west of England. Through careful planning, we were able to pre-empt the risks and opportunities, facilitating a more effective mobilisation, continued project delivery, and a better client relationships from the outset.

Impress from day one

The importance of effective mobilisation cannot be underplayed. If you don’t get it right from the outset, you’ll be challenged by the client and find yourself in the unenviable position of having to develop your own team while also having to work unnecessarily hard on building client relations.

Even if it’s a new sector, the core principles of achieving client satisfaction are the same. In Bristol we did this by having the right people in place, drawing on our corporate values – which dictated an exemplary attitude and ethos – and implementing successful tactics from other projects.

The window of opportunity to set the precedent and impress is small, but if you do the day job well, the relationship with the client will look after itself.      

The right people, in the right roles, with the right ideas

To do the day job well, you need good people. In Bristol, it was clear to us that we needed to strike the right balance between attracting talented local people, people with a background in defence, and some of the best people already working for Mace.

As a responsible business, creating jobs for local people is important to us. The knowledge held by the local community and the connection they have to an area can be invaluable in navigating regional sensitivities and forging strong relationships with the supply chain. This approach has served us well in Bristol, with over 95% of the team now falling under that bracket.    

Recruiting from within the defence sector provided us with the experience and existing client relationships we needed to build in a sector that was relatively new to Mace. The value these people continue to bring is immeasurable, and they undoubtedly helped to lay the strong foundations on which we’ve built our defence reputation.

Bringing existing colleagues to pastures new can be a complex matter. There are significant considerations associated with such a change and it’s important to help colleagues by highlighting the positives, such as potential career growth and improved lifestyle, as well as things that might be more challenging, such as moving away from friends and family.

Overall, it is the blend of skills and ideas that makes our Bristol team so strong. Indeed, we built our team in response to the defence sector’s call for fresh perspectives; there’s a considerable appetite to learn and innovate, and defence professionals recognise that transferring ideas from elsewhere is the best way to do this.      

Create a culture that sticks 

A desire to learn, innovate and deliver underpins the team culture in Bristol. It’s an ethos that we’ve worked hard to embed and it reflects the ‘can do’ attitude seen across all of Mace’s teams.

Our approach to maintaining this culture is simple; as a team, we set ourselves regular, short-term, tangible goals. This keeps us motivated and offers clients a proactive and progressive service.

Teams need leaders

Managing all of the above requires clear and considered leadership. This doesn’t necessarily mean setting rigid hierarchies, but rather creating ownership across the team and giving people the chance to grasp responsibility and lead by example.

In Bristol, we’ve given people the opportunity to flourish, encouraging them to step outside of their comfort zones and discover skills they didn’t know they had. We’ve also seen many of our ex-military colleagues capitalising on the leadership capabilities they refined during their service.

This has fostered a team of leaders who combine ideas and resource to ensure continued service excellence for our defence clients both in the south west and across the entire country.      

A sum of many parts

Irrespective of the specific tools and tactics put in place to mobilise successfully, it’s imperative to remember that teams rely on the collective efforts of unique individuals. Understanding individuality and responding appropriately is the best way to engage, develop and inspire your people and, ultimately, create an ambitious and high-performing team, capable of tackling anything that’s put in front of it.

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