Below are the essential tips for managing a team well. We cover the tops tips, plus how to manage remote teams, and how you can use Friday to improve your team management and communication. By the end, you'll have actionable takeaways to help with your team management. Let's get started.
1. Identify The Drivers For Your Team
To be a good manager you should identify the drivers of your team’s performance: Time, quality, costs and scope. Each driver has a good and bad side. The bad sides should be minimized and the good sides should be maximized.
Here are some quick tips for each driver:
- Time velocity
It's an obvious driver. No one wants to spend time on something useless and unproductive. You can improve it by eliminating distraction and giving the time frames the employees need to achieve any goals.
- Minimize scope
This can be achieved when you are able to establish estimates that are reliable enough. The process of putting the scope in place can be complicated, but you have to change your strategy b/c it doesn't work: make a list of features and find out which ones bring valuable add-on for the end user, and which aren't.
Sure, it can be improved if there are quality assurance specialists in the team. But remember, they aren't magicians and can't do everything right. There is always room for improvements. If you want to increase the quality, firstly figure out what your limiting factors are; e.g. it can be bugs, documentation or communication. Then address these issues and check the result again. Finally, try to change the method to see if it helps to achieve better results.
According to the Balanced Scorecard principle, your aim is not only to reduce costs but also improve many other different indicators, e.g. increase market share, employee satisfaction etc. Achieving this goal is a matter of priorities definition. You may have to focus on the essential and ignore some less essential parts. For example, if you have a bug in your system, do the most urgent things first and then come back to the bugs later. And so on.
2. Be a Great Communicator
Research shows that the key to effective team management is effective communication. In fact, miscommunication at work can cost firms hundreds of thousands a year. As a team leader, here are some healthy communication techniques:
- Encourage conversation between and among team members. This will help to bond team members together.
- Make your expectations clear and transparent. Ideally, you should be able to articulate the goals of a project and any associated deadlines.
- Give feedback regularly, preferably in real-time. Team members need to know what they’re doing right, and what they can do better.
- Be available to answer questions. Team members need to be able to reach you whenever the need arises
3. Actively Listen
You may have effective communication skills, but if you’re not actively listening to what your team is saying, then you’re not really communicating with them. Some of the techniques associated with active listening are:
- Maintain eye contact. Most people equate eye contact with attentiveness. If you want to appear interested in what they have to say, then look them in the eye.
- Listen for understanding. You can tell when someone is just waiting for you to shut up so they can speak again, or if they really understand what you’re saying.
- Avoid distractions. Be present in the conversation, and avoid checking your phone or email.
4. Practice Emotional Intelligence
The term “emotional intelligence” was popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name. According to Goleman, the three critical skills of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-regulation and social awareness.
- Self awareness is the ability to recognize your emotions and identify why you’re feeling the way you are. It’s important to be aware of how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors are connected.
- Self regulation is the ability to control your emotions and behavior in a way that’s positive and beneficial. It’s important to be cognizant of the consequences of your actions.
- Social awareness is the ability to recognize the emotions and underlying motives of other people. It’s important to understand what makes people tick, and be able to work effectively with them.
5. Develop Flexible Thinking Skills
It’s easy to fall into a routine of doing things the same old way. If you want your team to be innovative and creative, then you need to be open to new ideas and suggestions.
Researchers in education have identified flexible thinking in three key areas: technology acceptance, open-mindedness to the ideas of others, and adapting to new situations.
What techniques can you use to develop those areas for flexible thinking?
- Minimize distractions. This means turning off your cell phone and putting it in a place where it can’t be seen, but still within easy reach.
- Stay attentive. Make sure that your team members know that they have your attention. Call them by name and keep eye contact.
- Remember that it’s okay to say “no.” Sometimes, a team member will give you an idea that is just plain bad. The worst thing you can do is to say, “That’s a great idea!” and then act on it. Instead, you need to be honest. Explain where the idea will fall short, and then encourage the team member to come up with other ideas.
- Keep an open mind. Sometimes, your own personal biases can lead you to discount a good idea because it doesn’t fit with your preconceived notions.
- Encourage creativity. In many cases, creative ideas don’t come from the people you think they will, so don’t be surprised if someone you don’t usually rely on for good ideas gives you a great one.
6. Master Time Management Skills
The ability to manage your time is the essence of effective team management. Without the ability to effectively manage your time, you will be unable to effectively manage your team.
Some of the techniques associated with time management are:
- Make an agenda. This will help you to keep track of what you’re going to discuss, and how much time you’re going to spend on it. Your team can even do this asynchronously with Friday.
- Gather agenda items before the team meeting, or pin it in Friday using Posts before the meeting starts, and then add your meeting notes. Here’s more information on creating a meeting agenda.
- Be punctual. This means that you get started on time, and don’t allow distractions to throw off the schedule.
- Keep team meetings short. The longer the meeting, the lower the level of engagement.
- Set a time limit for questions and answers. If you don’t, then team members will take advantage of your good nature and ask you questions after they’ve already left the meeting. On the flipside, do not keep meetings going for too long. If you want your team to respect you, then you need to respect their time.
- Stop the meeting when it’s time to stop. Even if someone raises their hand to ask a question, you need to be strong and tell them that you’ll get back to them.
- Focus on what is being said. This goes back to active listening. Don’t let your mind wander even if you’re not the one speaking.
7. Set Clear Expectations
During initial team meetings, it’s important to reinforce your expectations and make it clear what it takes to succeed. It’s also a good idea to explain why the project is important, whether it’s for a client, your company or yourself. This will help team members to understand the importance of their work and will encourage them to give the project their all.
8. Define Your Team’s Goals
Once you’ve established expectations, it’s time to define the team’s goals. You should be able to identify concrete goals and communicate these goals with your team. In addition to your team goals, you should set individual goals for each team member. Just like you, your team members should be able to track their progress and measure their success.
9. Provide Regular Feedback
Receiving regular feedback will help your team members understand what they can do better and where they can improve. 50 percent of employees have quit a job because of their manager. There’s a clear correlation between a great manager and employee retention. At Friday, we have several ways that managers can check in with employees asynchronously--including one-on-ones and team check-ins.
Tips for Managing Teams Remotely
The team at Friday has written extensively about managing remote teams and remote work. In fact, our founder/CEO wrote a book about it.
Here are a few of our tips for managing remote teams:
- Update your team on what you’ve accomplished during the workday. This is vital for the company’s productivity. At Friday, we do this by providing a daily standup, which lists our core tasks for the day and also what we completed yesterday.
- We already mentioned giving and receiving feedback. This doubly important for remote employees. It’s important to know what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what can be improved upon, especially if there isn’t as much face-to-face interaction with a team manager.
- Allow for flexibility. With the team working from home and in different locations, it’s important to allow for levels of flexibility when it comes to work. With different time zones and external circumstances, the workday your remote team might not always be the typical 9 to 5.
Get more remote team management tips.
What To Do If You’re Having Trouble Managing Your Team
If you’re having trouble managing your team, it’s important to take a step back. Sometimes, we become so bogged down in the day-to-day demands of a project that we forget to take a break. By stepping back and taking a few deep breaths, you can regain your perspective and discover new ways to improve your team strength.
- Build trust within the team.
- Use positive reinforcement. Encourage team members to perform at their best by showing your approval when they do so.
- Be patient and listen before making a decision. It’s important that you understand the reason behind any team member’s frustration or concern.
- List your availability for team members. It’s probably dangerous to always be available, but setting expectations on when to communicate with you can ease that. When team members reach you during those times, they know it will be taken care of soon.
But also remember this: members of your team may be able to address issues on their own.
Joseph Grenny, of VitalSmarts, suggests in the Harvard Business Review that team members work with colleagues first because that’s where the impact is felt. As an example, he suggests that if one team is bypassing the process that the team members meet together first. If that doesn’t work, then it’s time to escalate.
Obviously, there are a variety of tools for team management and communication. Some of these may include communication channels like email, phone calls, text messages, intranet, workplace chat, or in-person meetings.
Friday glues your most important things at work together, bringing your goals, company handbooks, and asynchronous meeting check-ins all together. Your employees also get a great planner to help them roadmap their day. It integrates with Zoom, Google Calendar, Outlook, and task management software like Asana, JIRA, Trello, and more.
Use Friday to connect with your team--start for free!