Managing Teams without Positional Power

As a 24 year old brand manager for a reputed FMCG organization, I encountered many firsts as far as management lessons go – lessons that had easily been left out of the MBA curriculum of the business school that I had spent two years in. One of the hardest hitting lessons was the requirement to spearhead new product introduction working in cross functional teams. Here I was, interfacing with people much senior than me with absolutely no positional power other than the fact that I was the brand custodian.

That was not an easy task. Though the delivery timelines were a joint responsibility of the team working on the project, the accountability was on the brand manager to ensure that the launch happened in the way it was supposed to.

My initial days were like a game of blind man’s bluff – blindly running around here and there in the hope

that I would be able to catch hold of someone who would sort out issues and keep the project on track.

But I just came up against new walls every time. Some people got offended that I was too young to be handling the project, so they wanted to speak to my boss or boss’s boss. Others would turn around and tell me that they had done their bit and now it was the turn of the next department to take it forward. Still others would give me buffered timelines which were just unacceptable.

Soon realization dawned upon me that my current method of working was not leading me anywhere and some deep reflection followed. I then very methodically created a project management process which has held me in good stead as far as working in cross functional teams is concerned.

I followed a few key steps that helped me get control of the situation. Some key steps you can follow are mentioned below:

In hindsight, the process looks very simple – like it is common sense, and actually it is. But the intriguing part is that I have seen countless teams that become dysfunctional because of the following reasons:

The key to creating and managing a ‘Winning Team’ successfully, in my experience, is to find the right combination of people and task orientation. Even if one does not have positional power, one can rely upon one’s personal power, to create a process that enables all team members to contribute 100% and achieve audacious goals.

Ultimately it’s people who are inspired to own the task and take pride in supporting each other and delivering it together.

By Yoshita Swarup Sharma

Categories: Managing teams without Positional Power
Tags: accountabilitybrand managercross-functionaldepartmentexperienceFMCGgoalsMangingmeetingmethodpositional powerprojectresponsibilityreviewsseniorsstakeholderstask listteamstimelines
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