Having an excellent performer is good. But having a strong, cohesive, and successful team is even better. Your organization doesn’t and can’t only rely on individual success. It also relies on people working and achieving results together. And, as a leader, one of the challenges you’ll most probably face is managing a team.
Team building is both an art and a science. It takes great leadership to be able to see beyond an employee’s individual performance and consider how well they will work with other people. So, when managing a team, here are some things you should and shouldn’t do!
The Dos and Don’ts of Managing a Team
Do: Recognize the value of each team member
The success of a team doesn’t rely on the excellent performance of a person, but on the collective efforts of the group. So, when managing a team, you must recognize the value of each team member.
Carefully examine what an employee can contribute to the team. For example, you can consider people’s personalities. You might think that employees with similar personalities will work better together. However, that’s not usually the case. Dominant people tend to clash with each other because they want to push their own ideas. Influential people may have a harmonious relationship in the team but might have trouble focusing on the task at hand.
This is where balance becomes critical. Some people are meant to lead, and some people are better—and happier—supporting. And, while some may shine more than others, you have to recognize and appreciate the contributions of each member to their success. That way, not only do the top performers get encouraged, but also the others, too.
Do: Improve team communication
For a team to be successful, they should be clear on where each of them is coming from and where they’re going. Because of this, communicating effectively is crucial. Poor communication is even one of the most common organizational problems.
So, when managing a team, make sure that you also improve their communication. Sit down with them and allow your team members to get to know each other and build rapport. Working with someone you know is better than working with strangers. This will also help them slowly trust each other.
Through this, the members of the team could also discover how best to communicate with another person. Remember that your team is made up of different people. One of the things that make them different will be the way that they communicate, especially with personalities at play. Some of your team members will prefer a direct style of communication, some will prefer a more casual way.
Make sure also that you’ll be there for them whenever they want to communicate with you. As their leader, your presence in the team is crucial. You have to make them feel that not only can they talk to their team members, but that they can talk to you, too. This not only builds trust in you and the team but also prevents conflicts from happening and escalating.
Do: Practice teamwork
Teamwork isn’t innate. You may have found employees who you find will work well together, but it will take time before you can see the teamwork you want them to achieve.
So, help them practice teamwork. This is where you can use team-building programs and activities. Team building programs and activities exist to practice teamwork. Having a common goal in hand can help unite and encourage them. These programs test their collaboration and how well they can respond to their team members when there’s a task at hand that needs them to work as a group. So, when they’re back to work, the bond that they built during these activities can be used to finish tasks smoother and achieve business objectives.
Trust is the secret ingredient to successful teams. If your team trusts you and trusts their members, then they can work together. So, how can you achieve trust? By listening.
The fact is that, while you’re the leader, you don’t always know best. In some areas, your staff does know better than you. Why? Because while you’re the one who sees the bigger picture, they’re the ones in charge of the details. So listen to them. Who knows, maybe they have great ideas that can help obtain your objectives?
But, how can your employees? Well, the most direct way is to talk to them and take note of their opinions, ideas, and feedback. In case this isn’t possible, you could also conduct surveys. Surveys are useful for all companies to gather and record important data and information and examine the general opinion of employees. For example, you want to know how engaged your workforce is. Then an employee engagement survey is for you. You can also create a customized survey depending on what type of information are you looking to gather.
Don’t: Ignore conflict
In a team made of different people, conflict is inevitable. Differences don’t only maintain a balance in a team—they can also be a source for misunderstandings and challenges. And managers and leaders are at the forefront of conflict management. That’s why, as a leader managing a team, one of the things you shouldn’t do is to ignore it.
Surprisingly, it’s one common conflict management mistake. After all, ignorance is bliss. Some leaders believe that not acknowledging it will make it go away. Or, they think that it’s a simple misunderstanding. And when they do decide to intervene, it’s too late and the matter has blown up.
Whenever you notice your team having a dispute, be alert. Just because they’re quarreling doesn’t mean that you need to intervene right away. You coming in early may cause the matter to be perceived as bigger than what it really is. On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, coming in late may prove to be more difficult since the matter is now out of your grasp. When you do decide that it’s time to step in, talk to your team members personally, and listen to their sides. Remove any biases and work towards a solution together with the team. You can also take steps to reduce employee conflict to lessen situations like this from happening again.
Teams can fail for various reasons. But, don’t let you be the reason why it does. As a leader, your team’s success is also a reflection of your credibility. So, it’s acceptable that you want to be with them every step of the way, ensuring that what they’re doing is perfect and will help you achieve your goals. However, when you start controlling your team and micromanage, problems arise. In fact, an article by career and workplace expert Heather Huhman in Entrepreneur even dubs micromanagement as murder.
When you micromanage, while to you it’s a way of helping your team, to them, it’s a sign that you don’t trust them. It drives a wedge between you and them. Your employees are working for you because they’re qualified that they can do the job and be successful in it.
So, lay down what your team can and can’t do from the start. Inform them of your expectations and be open to discussing with them what they can and can’t meet. Remember also that communication should be two-way. Just like how you can share your ideas with them, they should be able to do so to you.
To be a great leader, managing your team successfully is essential. Remember that a leader is only as successful as their teams. It may look simple, but it’s a long journey. Along the way, you may experience challenges and conflicts. And when these happen, we hope that the dos and don’ts listed above can help you. Because while managing a team may be a challenging task, it’s also very rewarding and inspiring.