Team Leads: 11 Skills You Need to Motivate Your Team |

Team Leads: 11 Skills You Need To Motivate Your Team

Posted by Brandon Evans

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way,” or so says John Maxwell, leadership skills specialist and author of The 5 Levels of Leadership.  It’s easy to spot it in the natural world – the queen bee, the alpha wolf, the matriarch meerkat – but it gets awfully hazy when we turn to the modern office, and even more with remote working.

The overall productivity of the team can vary wildly depending on the direction of a team lead. Thus, it’s essential to gain an in-depth knowledge of team leads are supposed to fit into a team, their specific role and the influence they have on a team’s productivity.

What skills should team leads have?

The most important thing a leader can do to keep a team motivated is to make sure the work they are doing is meaningful. This means no bogus meetings that should’ve been emails, clearly defined targets and comprehensive guidance that goes beyond numbers into personal development and team-building. Here are the top 10 ways a team lead can raise motivation and preserve a healthy, happy workforce.

1. Be Positive: There needs to be a source of positivity for the team, which educates the team on the benefits of an optimistic outlook in creating a healthy team environment.

2. Have a Vision: Develop a vision for the team, a combination of project plan and the unique methodology. Share it with the team as a sort of road map or mission statement.

3. Establish Goals: Once you have vision, next come goals. Set targets that are both challenging yet achievable. The best goals are presented as a set of specific objectives with a due date. You could always check our goal-setting guide for a little more help.

4. Lead by Example: It’s an old phrase, but it still rings true. A hard-working team lead is inspirational, so if you want your team to be working hard and doing what you are asking of them, be sure to hold yourself to the same standards.

5. Invest in the Team: Set up a team budget for the team to spend on team building activities, such as a team lunch, outing or event. In a more holistic sense, take an interest in the personalities of your team, as genuinely getting along with everyone will foster a more creative, open-minded setting. 

6. Praise: The team lead should deliver praise to team members after a great job. Doing this consistently makes everyone more motivated towards a common goal, and shows workers that their efforts are appreciated and influential.

7. Provide Feedback: While praise is crucial, more formal feedback should also be given. The team lead should be very concerned with the potential of each team member, coming up with constructive feedback that leads to positive growth.

8. Set up Regular Meetings: Set up regular meetings with the team to make sure that everyone is on the same page, but be wary of scheduling too many. Daily stand-up meetings are a valuable insight into the current condition of a team, especially their suggestions and concerns.

9. Take Action: Whenever an issue is raised, whether during a meeting or just out of the blue, the team needs to see a lead take action to solve the problem. Being reactive and then proactive sets a great precedent for all.

10.  Go the Extra Mile: A truly marvelous team lead will be available to help the team members with all kinds of issues as they arise, but also go the extra mile to prevent problems before they happen. Be very attentive to the team’s behaviors and make significant changes.

11.  Take Care of Yourself: With all these responsibilities, a team lead has to keep themselves strong. If you are not well rested, well fed, and have other issues in your life, then you can’t perform at your best, so neither will your team.

How To Use Friday To Improve Your Team Communication 

Use Friday as your team management software to reduce your time in meetings, still be connected to your team, and hit your goals faster.

Best Features 

1. Stay in sync with your team asynchronously with Routines

With Friday, you can automate routine updates like daily standups or weekly updates. You can have more efficient in-person meetings, or eliminate them entirely. 

2. Have better discussions with Posts

Take important conversations out of the noise of Slack and into a forum-like atmosphere so your team can respond when it’s convenient for them, while utilizing a richer editing experience than Slack. 

3. Connect with your team using Kudos and Icebreakers

Your team can answer icebreaker questions to get to know one another better, and say thanks for a job well done. 

4. Add Structure To Your Information Flow

Friday provides a structure to your team that layers on top of Slack, Teams, and other tools like Asana,Trello, and ClickUp that you already use. 

As a team lead, you’ll create a predictable flow of information sharing. The information about your team flows to you rather than chasing them around the office. You don’t have to have more meetings, but fewer, more thoughtful ones. 

Start your Team on Friday & spend less time in meetings.

What Is A Team Lead?

Often, people use the terms team lead and team leader interchangeably. Much of the time they are used to refer to the same thing. Though the two roles have a large cross-over, there are some distinctions.

With larger teams and more complicated projects, it’s difficult for all members to operate under one authoritative leader. Therefore, it’s much more likely to have smaller clusters working under their own team leads.

Day-to-day, they delegate tasks and direct the group, performing many duties of a team leader, so those directly beneath tend to view them as such. The difference is hierarchical, meaning team leads report to the project manager, i.e. the presiding leader.

Why Is A Team Lead Important?

While 54% of HR leaders think lack of infrastructure is the largest problem for effective remote working, according to a Gartner poll, weak communication networks also get repeated mentions amongst specialists.

In an interview on analytical firm Gallup, more specifically their approach to organizational communication, Chief Human Resources Officer Matt Mosser said “the foundation with cascading communication through our company,” he said, “really started with a ton of transparency.” He also notes the importance of a team leader's influence talent, which he defines as “a nice, healthy, constant pressure, communicating values, beliefs and transparency.”

What is the Role of a Team Lead?

The role of a team lead is vital for facilitating this transparency as their job entails sustaining an effective communication structure that breeds success and makes employees feel valued and informed. It’s the key to a well-run project. The team lead translates company ambitions, aligning prospects with concrete actions. Without a team lead, communication fails and the project will inevitably stall before failing.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Team Lead?

A team lead is responsible for communicating with all the team members of their team, reporting to the project managers. As a team lead is responsible for ensuring that all tasks are completed on time, they have authority to view, edit and order the tasks of each team member, working with the project manager to provide updates on project status.

Aside from these typical obligations, a team lead needs to provide adequate support for team members. This could materialize as the clear explanation of project goals, personal development coaching, or conflict resolution--those are just a few of the key team management tips.

Here are the most common team lead responsibilities:

1. Identify Goals, Evaluate Progress

The most immediate job for a team lead is to translate project goals to the team, establishing a common definition of success and the explicit tasks needed to achieve them. However, in addition to attaining organizational goals, a team leader should also be concerned with helping individuals perform to the best of their abilities.

One way in which a leader can maintain progress is to consistently evaluate each member’s target-acquisition and provide relevant advice. They can set training requirements of each team member, recommend actions that could aid efficiency and productivity, helping the members to achieve both personal and organizational goals.

As team leads are responsible for periodically conducting performance reviews, keeping an eye on everyone’s daily or weekly achievements makes this process vastly simpler and more accurate.

2. Coaching Team Members

Because a team lead conveys the desires and expectations of a project manager to their team, they need to be sure that members are making decent progress. While this obviously involves regularly checking of work status, it’s just as important to assess an employee’s personal progress, providing constructive feedback while encouraging all to solicit feedback from each other.

An effective team lead identifies the group’s strengths and weaknesses. If a team has already been working together for a while, it is especially helpful to do a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis, which develops a sense of team character, enhancing collaboration.

By coaching the team in this fashion, a lead cultivates a productive environment where each member feels simultaneously supported and protected. Coaching is a skill that leaders absolutely must practice, for it can only improve through consistent effort.

When team members are coached successfully, it’s easier to have them share their ideas and concerns. It creates the kind of transparency we mentioned earlier. Being receptive to issues and responding accordingly builds trust and respect, keeping morale high.

3. Resolving Conflict

A great team lead should be able to resolve conflict by encouraging a healthy discussion that is constructive and doesn’t get out of hand. In this sense, they are a mediator. They are responsible for keeping the team focused, which includes fixing any issues that can negatively impact that.

The key to being a great team lead is to be personable and genuinely invested in well being of the team, thinking of it not simply as a performance indicator but a necessary criterion for a successful project or productive company.

When project members feel heard and convinced that their lead is fair and fast-acting, they are free to concentrate on the work. If a team lead leaves conflict unresolved, it creates a stressful atmosphere, so they have a responsibility to adjudicate between team members or voice their larger concerns to project managers.

4. Communication Strategies

Strong communication skills are the foundation of team leading, allowing the relay of information in a clear and direct manner. They not only connect individuals together but sustain the transfer of ideas, too.

As shown in an SHRM survey, 400 companies of over 100,000 employees reported an average annual loss of $62.4 million because of poor communication. Thus, the team lead should think of themselves as coordinators of communication, one of their most critical responsibilities.

A team lead upholds an organization’s internal communication system, which includes conducting team meetings, written correspondence (email, app, social) and accommodating the transferral of information, whether it’s a leadership-down or employee-up structure. Without a team lead fulfilling this role, it’s difficult for employees to grasp company aims, or for the company to assess employees and project status.

How Do You Become a Team Lead?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to become a team lead may vary depending on the team, organization, and industry. Sometimes, it's also about being in the right place at the right time and growing with a company. However, some tips on how to become a team lead are similar to the ones listed above including developing strong leadership skills, demonstrating an ability to motivate and inspire team members, and being able to effectively communicate and collaborate with team members. You can start doing these things before officially receiving the team lead designation.

Remote Working as a Team Lead

In response to the Covid-19 virus, many companies are redefining their work models and with it leadership. Even afterwards, 74% of organizations plan to keep a proportion of employees working remotely, according to Gartner data. There are many communication challenges that come with this, so it’s even more important to ensure that the team lead arranges efficient communication that keeps everyone connected and current.

Historically, we’re used to the notion that armies have their generals and ships need their captains. However, to quote pioneer Henry Ford, “You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.” A team lead and their team members are co-dependent, so multiple members can take on these leader responsibilities. The important thing is that the role is filled, the work is quality, and the team has a good time doing it!

In the book Anywhere Operating System, Friday CEO Luke Thomas outlines these key steps team leads should implement when working remotely to stay aligned:

  • Give people clear areas of ownership and don’t overcomplicate it. Often you hire people to solve one primary pain point. Make it obvious what the most important area of ownership is.
  • Make key responsibilities visible to all – Ideally, a new employee should be able to visit a coworker’s profile and see what they are responsible for. They shouldn’t need to ask around to learn this.
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