How to Manage a Team: The Complete Guide
Teams, like the workplace, have evolved. Traditional management practices are falling to the wayside as we recover from the aftermath of the pandemic. The changes are for the better. The dialogue has morphed into thinking about motivating a team and developing leadership skills to make it happen instead of focusing on micromanaging and bean counting.
We call it the humanization of team management. The past meant a radical separation between church and state or work and your personal life. One of the best lessons that COVID taught us is that people matter. Their struggles and mental health are important because they can profoundly affect employee performance and productivity. Consequently, we had to rethink how to manage a team.
Consider the consequences of the Great Resignation and quiet quitting. According to a survey by Monster.com, an astounding 96 percent of workers are looking for a different position in 2023. That means a lot of dissatisfaction in the workplace, with vulnerabilities in employee retention and engagement. That makes honing the skills of a team manager imperative.
The Importance of Team Management
You can think of team management as a compass. It directs the workload to prevent employee burnout and keep projects on time. The former is a red flag that it can go off the rails. Almost 80 percent of workers report feeling at least some stress on the job. The repercussions are devastating, from a lack of engagement to reductions in productivity. That costs organizations roughly $605 billion a year.
Organizations can’t afford not to prioritize team and project management.
Why is team management important? It’s the glue that holds these groups together. It does it by building trust, expecting personal accountability, and cultivating a culture of collaboration. The result is a team with a laser focus on the milestones and goals it must reach. Everyone has ownership and, thus, boosts engagement. That’s your mindset when thinking about how do you manage a team.
How To Motivate and Engage Your Team
Engaging your team involves giving your people what they need to do their jobs well. People often procrastinate when a task seems too daunting. They don’t know where to begin or have the tools to do the job. Your staff simply wants to be able to do what they must do quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, they’re wasting their time and increasing their risk of burnout.
It isn’t rocket science. Your employees want the training necessary to get it done. That means investing in learning and development (L&D). Leaders are listening, fresh off the lessons of the pandemic. According to the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, 72 percent of managers make it a part of their business strategies.
When your people become more knowledgeable, they are more confident. They can work more efficiently with fewer distractions. The latter has a cost. Employees will strive to complete and meet deadlines. However, the risk of costly errors and burnout increases as they work faster to stay on point. Training eliminates wasted time in tracking down information.
The next question is, how do you motivate your team?
It’s essential to understand that leadership profoundly impacts employee well-being and motivation. Therefore, motivating a team starts at the top with the person leading the group. That means investing in leadership training. It can teach individuals the soft skills like emotional intelligence that they need to inspire creativity and engagement.
Research has shown the best practices in the team management process include employee participation in decision-making, clarity, well-defined expectations, and performance feedback. Having the tools workers need gets the ball rolling. The role of leadership is the secret to achieving the team’s goals by fostering trust. A vital aspect is communication within the group.
Productive Meeting Techniques
Meetings are a necessary evil. The problem is were overdoing them with their value getting lost in the process. The culture of the meeting is broken. Consider these stats.
The average worker attends eight meetings per week.
Roughly 55 percent thought the information could have come in an email instead.
Unproductive meetings cost organizations 24 billion employee hours a year or $37 billion.
We can’t do away with meetings altogether. Zoom calls don’t always cut it, either. Many are multitasking and doing something unrelated during them, making them even less productive. However, teams must get together in person sometimes. Many prefer it. However, we need to do a reset on how they’re conducted to make them more worthwhile. Let’s begin with what’s wrong with meetings.
Why Meetings Fail
Many meetings are simply unfocused and too long, with too many people present.
You can solve the first issue by determining whether the meeting is really necessary. Are the employees right to complain that an email would have sufficed? Meetings aren’t about updating other team members. That’s something accomplished with asynchronous communication. Instead, their purpose is decision-making and problem-solving, where the group’s input is required.
You can bring focus to a meeting by having an agenda with a strict time limit. Both things will help keep everyone’s attention and get to its purpose quickly. You can also save time by sending out the agenda ahead of time to give your people time to mull it over to come prepared. The other problem with meetings is too many people, including those with no skin in the game.
Having much more than 10 people at a time is unproductive. The chances are there won’t be enough time to get everyone’s input. You should also ensure the ones that are present are directly involved in the agenda items. Don’t waste their time on things that don’t pertain to their work obligations. Remember that the aim is to fine-tune your meetings to get the most out of them.
When Meetings Succeed
Productive meetings accomplish their initial purpose. They start on time and end as scheduled. The focus should be positive. After all, it’s an excellent time to rally the troops and generate enthusiasm. Meetings aren’t just story time at the office. They should have actionable steps for follow-up and further discussion. Ultimately, a meeting succeeds when it adds to the team’s knowledge base.
More Tips for Productive Meetings
Meetings are opportunities to collaborate, encourage one another, and brainstorm. It allows employees to provide feedback, which can increase engagement. Discussing issues together offers benefits that individuals working alone at their desks can’t bring to the table. Therefore, it behooves leaders to cultivate productive meeting techniques and best practices into their agenda.
Set Ground Rules.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but ground rules are imperative to avoid the irritations that make meetings unproductive. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Zoom call or an in-person gathering. Things that get under people’s skin the most include the following:
- Unmuted background noise on virtual calls
- Late starts
- Technical issues
- Unprepared staff
- Off-topic discussions
A facilitator can solve many of these issues and stick to the agenda and schedule. While some things are unforeseen, most of these annoyances show a lack of respect for co-workers. A good leader will set the example that everyone in the meeting matters.
Hold Meetings at Times Your Staff Prefers.
Meetings break up the workday. Some may like the change of pace. Others want these discussions first thing in the morning to get them out of the way. We suggest asking your team what it prefers. It’s probably safe to say that meetings at the end of the day or during lunch probably won’t get the undivided attention of your staff. Work with your people to set a mutually agreed-upon time.
Cultivate a Psychologically Safe Workplace.
One of the main purposes of a meeting is to solicit feedback. Everyone has an opinion, whether or not they voice it. The best way to get them to speak up is to foster a psychologically safe workplace. Every individual should feel free to speak without reprisal or ridicule. You can open up enormous potential by simply giving your employees a platform in which they can speak.
Keep Meetings on Point.
Some employees are more extroverted and willing to speak than others. While their contributions are helpful, it’s essential to stick to the agenda and avoid letting one or a few people dominate the meeting. After all, the point is a discussion, not a monologue.
Keep It to 30 Minutes or Less.
We suggest keeping meetings to 30 minutes or less for several reasons. Sitting quietly while others talk gets boring after a while. It’s no wonder that some people sleep during them, even if they won’t admit it. It’s also unhealthy to sit for long stretches. We naturally start to settle in and slow down if there isn’t a lot happening. Half-hour meetings keep the focus on completing the agenda with fewer interruptions.
We strongly urge you to appoint someone to take notes. Document what was discussed and what decisions were made. You should also note who is responsible for any next steps. Make sure everyone in attendance gets a copy. We also suggest archiving them, particularly for long-term projects. It’ll save time if you’re not backtracking on something you’ve already discussed.
Follow Through on Further Actions.
A meeting does little good if there isn’t follow-up where necessary. The facilitator or manager should check in with anyone given a task. It is most effective if it’s distributed to the group while the meeting is still fresh in their minds. Doing so provides the discussion with meaning and backbone. It tells team members their time was well-spent. If you wonder, what are some good meeting techniques?
This is one of them.
How to Surround Yourself With a Supportive Environment
We’ve discussed how the workplace is evolving. Many organizations pivoted to a remote system during the pandemic with 71 percent following this model. Many companies are embracing a hybrid workplace in its aftermath. Leadership has also adapted. Perhaps American writer Marissa Meyer said it best. “Find the smartest people you can and surround yourself with them.”
Leaders and managers need a supportive environment. That means recruiting and retaining top talent. Success depends upon confident leaders who are willing to learn and delegate. The vertical leadership style with only one person at the helm is a dated concept in today’s world. It’s not a failure to admit you don’t know something. That’s what makes team management necessary.
Instead of top-down management, a more effective approach is often shared leadership for knowledge work. Everyone brings different experiences and backgrounds to the team. The most valuable skills of a team manager are to identify and encourage each employee’s strengths, including their own. Delegating tasks shows trust and builds stronger relationships within the group.
The pandemic taught us how valuable a supportive work environment is for employee well-being. Creating a culture of collaboration is an excellent way to create personal accountability. It’s also vital to recognize everyone’s achievements and celebrate them. We can’t think of a better way for motivating a team. Show your people respect, and they will deliver.
The foundation exists with clear communication. It’s one of the best team management tips. It builds on everything we’ve discussed so far, from meeting ground rules to fair workloads. It nurtures and grows the team’s social mind of shared knowledge, decisions, and solutions. It is the group’s most valuable asset.
Team management isn’t static or dogmatic. It exists and responds to the actions of the team. It embraces open discussion, shared ideas, and even conflict if it identifies problems and offers solutions. The process involves people management skills and sound decision-making. The best team managers lead by example. They set the tone for a psychologically safe workplace where everyone is free to contribute.
One of the essential skills all leaders possess is the willingness to learn. The changing world demands it. Kutsko Consulting can help you on your journey to becoming a successful leader with our coaching and training services. Our free preview course will give you show you the possibilities. Contact us today to learn more.
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