Team Management

The Ultimate Guide to Team Management

Team management is increasingly becoming a sought after organizational priority. At a basic level, it is about bringing and keeping people together to achieve set objectives and goals. While the focus on team management has been around for decades, its importance is lately increasing as organizations begin to realize the need for holistic collaboration and the perils of working in silos. Through the course of this blog, we will shed light on the meaning and importance of team management. At the same time, we will share some tried and tested tips to augment team management and how it is being redefined in the age of remote work.

Table of contents

What is team management?

As the term suggests, team management is essentially about managing a team to achieve a set target. While some professionals believe that team management is simply about delegation and allocation of tasks, it is important to understand that it is a much more comprehensive concept. Team management is practically the key to the success of any team. 

It starts from bringing together the right talent, to nurturing them and leveraging their strengths, to retaining them and facilitating their personal and professional growth. Undoubtedly, the ultimate objective of team management is to ensure that a team is able to achieve what it sets out for. However, there are several factors like communication, delegation, problem solving, collaboration, etc. that make this achievement possible and collectively define team management.

Importance of effective team management

If you find yourself wondering if team management is actually worth the while, take a pause and reflect on the question. On a macro level, the goal of effective team management is to achieve the set targets and goals. This is a direct reason why organizations must pay due heed to team management. However, if you are questioning how team management is able to achieve this success, we have a few reasons to support our assertion.

Positive work culture

With a combination of enabling factors like effective communication, clear directions, seamless collaboration, etc., team management has the potential to create a positive and empowering work culture. Consequently, a positive work culture results in happier employees and acts as a great tool for employer branding. According to a study, more than 50% of executives say corporate culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value, and growth rates. Therefore, team management is a great asset for organizations to build the right culture.

Greater productivity

On a similar note, effective team management has the potential to facilitate greater productivity and performance. The rationale is simple, team management entails clear expectation setting and accountability. There is no scope of confusion or chaos which leads to efficient work and meeting of targets. At the same time, team management enables employees and managers to share their expectations and concerns, augmenting satisfaction as a whole. Research shows that satisfied employees are 12% more productive than the average worker. Evidently, team management augments clarity of work resulting in increased productivity. 

Increased retention

Finally, one of the major challenges faced by organizations is retaining top talent. According to a study by Gallup, 50% of employees quit their bosses and not their jobs. At the same time, the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s salary.  This is alarming and clearly indicates the cost of poor team management. Fortunately, effective management can help bridge this gap. When employees find a culture they can thrive in and a team that supports their goals and ambitions, they are unlikely to look out, reducing turnover significantly. 

What are team management skills?

With a clear rationale of how team management helps and how an organization can benefit from the same, we can now move on to explore some of the top team management skills that managers and leaders must possess.

Communication

Team management essentially involves clear and more importantly a two-way communication. Managers should not only focus on ensuring that they are able to set clear expectations and communicate their thoughts well. They should also strive to promote active listening to gauge employee pulse, thoughts and ideas. 

Delegation

Delegation refers to allocation of tasks and responsibilities within the team based on the strengths and competencies of each member. Delegation, and therefore, team management is effective when leaders are able to gauge the capabilities as well as interests of all team members to ensure effective and efficient allocation of responsibilities. The result is not only effective performance, but also professional development for all team members.

Empathy

For a team to work effectively, managers need to have a high emotional quotient and must display empathy for all team members. Employees need to be seen as humans and focus should be on their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Empathy and emotional quotient enables leaders to manage their own emotions as well as those of others to be able to motivate and influence their team members.

Decision making

Team management is all about making the right decisions which come together to result in great productivity. Decision regarding prioritization, resource allocation, and others that involve and impact the team. At the same time, decision making is often based on consensus, which when it goes well, results in effective team management.

Problem solving

The role of a manager is not simply to allocate tasks or perform those that come in their corner. Rather, problem solving is an important part of a manager’s key responsibility area. Managers who are good at problem solving have the potential to identify a challenge, critically analyze the same to come with the best solution. In most cases, when done effectively, managers can solve problems to bring teams closer together.

Expectation management

Each member in a team has several expectations when they come to work. At teams, the expectations of two or more members can be in conflict with one another. Effective team management is all about managing the expectations such that it creates a win-win situation for all. This often requires having difficult conversations with one or more team members and leaders who possess this team management skill are on the path to success.

Fairness and respect

Since team management is about bringing and keeping a team together, skills of ensuring fairness and respect are very important. No team member should feel that anyone else in the team is getting more attention or importance. Here, transparency plays a major role. When everyone knows what’s going on in the team, a culture of fairness and respect builds naturally.

Organization

Finally, the skill of being organized is integral to effective team management. Only when the professional leading the journey is organized and has control over what has to be done, will the team function effectively. Lack of organization and discipline will lead to chaos in the team. Therefore, organization is a great tool to manage and lead a team efficiently.

How to improve team management: Top team management tips

It is clear that effective team management practices need to be a key area of attention for organizations today. Team management practices are not only about getting the work done efficiently. Rather its importance lies in ensuring that in addition to the work being done, there is progress for both the individual and the organization at large. There are some team management tips that leaders can adopt to successfully mentor and navigate their organization towards success.

Be consistent

One of the first team management tips is consistency. Managers must be consistent across different avenues. On the one hand, their performance across tasks should be consistent. On the other hand, the way they react to the behaviors and actions of others must be uniform. For instance, one should not reward a behavior by a certain employee and disregard and punish the same by another. 

Understand your team 

The next one in the list of team management tips is understanding one’s team. This involves making an effort to communicate and collaborate with team members. This involves being clear in what you say and expect out of them, setting the goals and showing empathy. According to a study by Interact, 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees. This trend must change to augment manager effectiveness. 

Build authentic relationships 

In addition to understanding the team, it is equally important to build authentic relationships. As another one of the key effective team management practices, managers must facilitate building trust and confidence in their teams. The road to building such relationships starts with being transparent in whatever one does. Additionally, managers must be fair in their decisions and create credibility for their teams to respect them and augment effectiveness in the way they lead. A report by IBM illustrates that 83% of employees experienced a more positive work environment when they felt there was trust in their managers. Building trust and authentic relationships breed manager effectiveness. 

Lead by example 

Finally, managers who really wish to lead effectively, lead by example. Expecting others to perform to the best of their abilities while the management doesn’t walk the talk is ineffective. Managers must lead by the way to efficient performance. Creating the right expectations for team members to follow becomes a key motivator in effective team management.

Role of the Organization 

While these are important steps and actions that managers must take to promote team management, organizations also play an equally important role to equip managers with the necessary resources and assistance. To begin with, organizations should clearly define what effective team management means to them. This involves clarity in metrics and indicators across business verticals that define success. Additionally, organizations can experiment with investing in soft skills training and coaching programs for managers to help them develop the key competencies to lead their teams effectively. Ignoring effective management practices comes at the cost of poor organizational performance and team high team attrition rates. Providing managers with the right resources and support can help them build strong teams, a positive work culture and ultimately a healthy organization.

Managing virtual team: Tips and tricks

It goes without saying that organizations have spent years perfecting their team management practices. However, the advent of the pandemic disrupted every aspect of our lives, including the way we work. Invariably, organizations are being pushed to don a new avatar to keep pace with the changing conditions and adapt to the new normal. Here are a few ways organizations and managers can write the new playbook for team management practices.

Set clear expectations, early on

Team management practices for a virtual workforce start with clear demarcation as well as communication of roles and responsibilities. Managers need to explicitly state deliverables and what they expect out of the employees. At the same time, KPIs or Key Performance Indicators, which can be captured and measured for a remote workforce must be agreed on and communicated. To ensure that everybody is on the same page is essential, because your employees will not be able to run to you every second like in the office. 

Provide the right resources

Working remotely requires employees to have a robust setup at home to ensure effective working. Managing a remote team, thus, requires managers to ensure that all employees have the right resources when working from home. This majorly covers all the hardware (computer/ laptop), software and broadband needs. Obviously, the resources to function effectively will change from company to company. Therefore, managers need to come up with an exhaustive list of resources and ensure that employees have access to them. It would also be a good idea to alter the terms of contract for employment, wherever suitable. For instance, the travel allowance can be changed to a broadband allowance. 

Leverage the top tools

Owing to major online platforms and tools, managing a remote team is increasingly becoming easier. Some of the major challenges of working virtually, including, communication, collaboration, productivity trackers, time management, brainstorming, etc., all have their solutions in these tools. 

Ensure role suitability

The efficacy of managing a remote team largely depends on the people you have onboard. Thus, it is very important to ensure role suitability. This means that hiring of human resources should be on the basis of what skills and competencies the role requires. The needs and expectations for each role must be mapped to the skill set of potential candidates before hiring. Today, organizations can leverage several HR tech tools to make this journey smoother. When the person is suitable for the role, working remotely becomes easy and effective. 

Build a culture of trust and ownership

Finally, it is very important to trust your team. More often than not, managers don’t have faith in their team and constantly nag them for their progress and deliverables. Invariably, a shift to a remote workforce requires a gradual change in the organizational culture. Once you start believing in your employees and trust them, they will start taking ownership of their work. And, once a culture of ownership and self motivation kicks in, managing a remote team becomes a breeze. 

These five practices are the basics that every organization, contemplating a long-term remote work strategy, must consider. Once you get the basics in place, you may want to explore more advanced strategies and practices that involve greater investment and leadership buy-in to promote team management.

Top team management tools for organizational success

Team management, whether online or offline, benefits when organizations employ and leverage different tools to create a positive experience for the team members. Based on the functional needs, different organizations can use different tools, while some can be common for all. Let’s quickly discuss a few areas where team management tools can promote performance and productivity.

Meetings and communication

With communication being one of the core pillars of effective team management, it is important for organizations to invest in tools that facilitate the same. Depending on the nature of scope of communication and collaboration, different team management tools should be explored. Asynchronous collaboration can be done over tools like Slack and Google docs. On the other hand, real time meetings can be hosted over Zoom, Google Meet, WebEx, etc. Organizations can also leverage features like break out rooms and whiteboards to make communication engaging and participatory.

Project management

For teams to work effectively, being on the same page is very important. This becomes slightly tricky in case of remote work. Fortunately, there are plenty of project management tools like Trello, Asana, Jira where teams can seamlessly work together, track progress and stick to their timelines to achieve the deadlines. 

Employee opinion

Unless managers and leaders know what their employees and team members feel and are thinking, managing them effectively will be very difficult. Here, leveraging tools like SuperBeings will reap results. SuperBeings enables organizations to gauge employee pulse on a regular basis and provides action based insights for managers based on the responses received. It empowers leaders with the right steps, actions and insights to promote effective team management.

Engagement 

Bonding between team members is critical for effective team management. In conventional times, team members could simply bond over a cup of coffee. However, the trend saw a decline with the transition to remote work. Fortunately, with tools like Dive and Shuffle, team members can engage and interact with others who have shared interests and bond over similar likes and dislikes. This is a great way for team members to know more about each other and promote teamwork.

Team management: A collaborative effort

As we come to the conclusion, it is important to note that team management is a collaborative effort. While managers are responsible to sail the ship forward, senior leadership must provide them with the right tools and resources to navigate the way. At the same time, the onus lies with all the team members too, to make sincere efforts to work with their coworkers to the best of their abilities. A combination of the above mentioned tips and tricks, the right tools and a positive attitude is what organizations need to promote effective team management.

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