If you are a brand-new startup founder in pursuit of gaining team management skills, or if you are a seasoned manager looking to review your own performance take your game to the next level, this piece is for you. We will talk about 8 of the most critical team management skills that every leader should know about. The role of the team manager is not just setting deadlines and following the progress. If you think your team should be better, you as the leader of the team should become a better leader as well.
1- Find the Right People
Choosing the right people is the first step of creating the dream team. That should be easy right? Just choose who you like and let go of the ones you don’t…
Most of us think about the right people as precise copies of our own personalities; someone who thinks and acts similar to us. However, a mitosis copy is far from the ideal team member.
What you should be looking for is a person who has a quality for complementing your strength. Someone with his unique version of individuality that is eager to be a team player.
More than often we dumb down the passionate individual into conforming and obeying. The ideal people should have a passion of their own which could be aligned with the objectives of the project.
Take your time when trying to find the right people. Ask for help from others. Do your homework before committing to anyone.
The secret about finding the right people is that you should create the right people. This might be one of the most important team management skills: A leader should bring out the best in the team.
Get to know every one of your teammates. Find their passions and personal work styles. Observe their performance and try to make them better individuals.
The right people for the team are created by the leader. If by any chance your team includes a bad apple that does not respond to your efforts of betterment, let them go. Keeping the wrong people will damage the overall morals of the team and its performance as well. There is no point in keeping on someone who obviously does not want to be there.
2- Have A Clear Strategy
What is the purpose of your project? What are your values? Where do you want to be in 5 years?
If I had a penny for every time I’ve asked these questions and heard a long silence in response…
Among team management skills I have not seen any other so religiously ignored than this one: Explaining the Strategy to the Team.
Strategic management is not a fancy word for producing documents no one reads. Unfortunately, almost always the people working in a project have no idea what is going on in the big picture. Sometimes it is because they just don’t care (more on this in the coming lines), but sometimes they are actively kept in the dark by the management.
It is as though if they knew, they might run away and start their own business and everything will be lost. This is not the truth.
Every member of the team should see a clear view of his/her role in the bigger picture and have a good idea of the team’s values and long term vision. Set clear goals and share the strategy with your team. How can you expect your team to act proactively and be self-sufficient whilst they have no idea of the desired objectives. You cannot achieve success if your team does not know what success is.
3- Lead by Example
On the subconscious level, we desire obedient characters who don’t know how to say No and are willing to work for free while we sit down and watch them run around and do everything for us! Obviously, that is not the way a team works.
If you want your team to work harder, don’t be the guy who comes last and leaves first. No amount of team management skills can transform your team if you, as the leader, do not adhere to the same standards as you hold for the others.
Numerous successful leaders have told me personally that the only change they could have caused in their teams were the ones they practiced themselves. You can teach a thousand times more efficiently by doing, than what you had hoped to achieve by mere talking.
A lot of problems in a team rise from a lack of communication. Holding regular meetings and giving speeches is not really communicating.
One of the most important Team management skills is the art of communication. As a team leader, you are in charge of creating an environment of openness and clarity. Being approachable and listening to the team members patiently is a big part of this. Be eager to know your teammates and ask questions.
Create god relations between teammates by facilitating communication between them. Arrange social meetings for them to get to know each other better and help them reconcile their differences.
You should also be able to give genuine feedback. Observing and tracking performances would make you able to give genuine feedback. Working on your communication techniques would enable you to convey positive criticism.
5- Create a Positive Culture
A cut-throat and stressful environment might seem like a good way to create a dynamic workplace. Stress can be a strong motivator but it has never inspired great ideas. People trying to get ahead at every cost, even if it is destroying their teammates’ careers, are toxic, not pragmatic. The strong should not prey on the weak, but they should help them get stronger. You as the leader of the team should create a positive culture of healthy teamwork.
Crediting the right behavior and standing against the wrong ones is your role here.
The positive culture also includes promoting people based on work qualities and team values. If you talk about team values and hard work without rewarding such values, I am afraid it is all talk. Actions speak louder.
Designing a system for the recognition and encouragement of good performance is often neglected in teams. The team member who stays after everyone has left, goes out of his/her own way to help a coworker, fixes a problem and increase efficiency should be credited and encouraged to keep on caring.
6- Be and Don’t Be a Dictator
Although having a friendly environment has its perks, the focus of your group is on working together. Your role in the group should be of the leader. Keep an open ear for different ideas and embrace any challenges from other teammates. Everyone is prone to mistake, but when you know you are right, insist on it.
Include others in the decision-making process. Do not be a dictator, and ask for everyone’s opinion. If you reach a decision though, do not hesitate to command the team in the right direction.
Take your time to persuade others and explain to them the reasons for your choice. There is always someone yet who would not agree with you and that is okay. Your job is not getting everyone happy. You must assert the decision and this is the only time you should be a dictator.
Also, take in mind that, people work in different styles. Do not be a dictator. Give your teammates the freedom needed for them to do what they have been hired to do.
7- Focus on Learning
When choosing the right people for the team, we tend to fixate on the moment of now and ask ourselves what this person has to offer for the group right now. If strategic management has taught us anything is that the future is on the corner. The people that you hire should be able to adapt to the changes that the future holds. You, as the team manager, should not be looking for superstars, but super learners instead.
We talked about the fact that the right people for the team are created by the leader. One aspect of this attempt is done through learning. One of the most important team management skills the team managers should know is that a constant state of learning should be promoted as a general value in your group.
Investing in the training of the team and creating the right environment is crucial to achieving this.
The culture of learning would be established when you, as the leader of the team, apply it to yourself as well. The team includes you too after all. Keep on learning.
Viewing people as the Gant-chart-drivers can never amount to anything great. You should try something different.
The aim here is making your teammates simply care about the project. That might seem a bit odd but it is the natural path to growth. People should care about the outcome of their actions. You need a teammate who is passionate about the project goals and takes pride in work. The efficiency of this type of team is second to none. As a leader, you should aspire to make your team care about the job.
Every member is important and valuable for the team and they should know that you acknowledge this. Encouraging healthy behaviors, creating a supportive and friendly environment, and appreciating the work of your teammates are steps in the right direction.
People should not feel trapped in their jobs. They should not conceive the work as a waste of time. Create an opportunity for people to grow. Ignite their passion and create a bright vision of the future in their minds.