The art of effective team management is not learnt overnight. But, the good thing is that great team management is not difficult, it just requires practice.
Team Management Essential Skills
There are a few skills that are absolutely essential for team management.
Here is the full list of essential team management qualities.
- Listen First, Talk Later
- Develop Leadership Skills
- Influence Without Authority
- KISS Principle
- We Before Me
- Use Management Tools
- Stay Agile
- Guide Your Team To Replace You
- Always Firmly Support Your Team
- Communication Skills
Team Management Skills – Detailed
Let us go over each skill in detail.
Listen First, Talk Later
A good leader is always a good listener.
It is always easy to talk more and listen less.
However, if a manager focuses on listening, the team feels empowered.
And an empowered team can do wonders for the manager.
A manager can only provide effective guidance if he or she knows the full ground realities.
While listening to the team members, it is important to pay genuine attention.
Many managers only superficially listen to the concerns of their employees and end up doing more harm than good.
After listening to your employees, a manager should provide actionable next steps.
If actionable next steps are not clear at that moment, it is good to provide the team concrete action plans that will result in actionable next steps.
Leaving a conversation saying “We’ll see” or “Let’s look into it” is meaningless and does not instill confidence in the employees.
Develop Leadership Skills
This goes without saying.
Many people assume that they are born leaders.
And if that is true, then a true leader knows that there is always room for self improvement.
Here is the full list of necessary leadership skills.
And there is no one correct way to be a leader.
Every leader has their unique style. And every style has its own pros and cons.
The important thing is to keep an open mind and always be open to change.
Influence Without Authority
Many first time managers feel they don’t have the authority to bring about meangingful change.
In fact, many new managers feel they have to prove themselves and they are worthy of this promotion.
In the end, new managers over work their teams resulting in a burn out.
Instead of effectively managing team capacities and saying no to new work, first time managers end up saying yes to anything and everything.
Therefore, it is important to not forget how to influence without authority.
Let us say a new manager receives a list of tasks from their boss. How should the manager handle this list? How do they make sure that they are not overworking their team? The best way is to make sure that the managers are setting the right expectations with their boss.
Setting the right expectation means that the manager presents an accurate assessment of the team’s capacity and accordingly prioritizes the work.
It is important to not over complicate things.
A new manager may feel overwhelmed initially and communicate too many irrelevant tasks to their teams.
The team members may end up getting confused.
Therefore, it is important to remember the KISS principle during every interaction and during every communication.
We Before Me
Always, always, always put the team before self.
Many new managers are eager to present themselves before their bosses, thinking that they will impress their bosses.
But, those same bosses were once first time people managers too.
The bosses expect their people leaders to promote the good work of their employees and promote them in the lime light.
A leader who puts the team’s interests over their own interests earns the respect of admiration of not only the individual team members, but also of his or her superiors.
Use Management Tools
There is a plethora of excellent management tools available in the market.
There are tools that are suited for very large teams as well as very small teams.
The important thing here is to actually pick one and start using it.
For example, if a manager needs his or her team members to provide their individual updates on a project, then how should that happen? Over email? Over Excel? Emails and Excel files are difficult to manage with multiple people for multiple updates.
It is best to use tools like Asana, Jira, Trello, etc.
Check out a useful comparison for Trello vs Asana.
Things constantly change.
It is useful to remain nimble and agile while managing a team.
The principles of agile methodology can easily be applied to team management dynamics.
Some team members may get upset that a new project priority has resulted in their existing project becoming redundant.
Team members may also feel demotivated.
It is important for managers to properly coach and guide their team members about the business needs. No effort every goes waste.
A project priority is not set in stone. Pointing out the differences between the waterfall and agile approaches is also useful.
Guide Your Team To Replace You
A great manager is not insecure about his or her position.
In fact, a self confident manager would always coach and guide their team members to be able to one day replace the manager.
And you know the best part? Your team would feel very energized and motivated if they know that their manager is genuinely looking out for them.
It is important for employees to see a clear career progression path.
Check out the career progression path at some top companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc.
All of us make mistakes.
It is important to not discourage people from doing something for the fear of getting it wrong or making a mistake.
A manager should empathize with their employees when they make a mistake or get something wrong.
It is ok to make a mistake. The important thing is to learn from that and improve upon the task.
Always Firmly Support Your Team
This is in addition to the “We Before Me” part that we discussed earlier.
There will be instances when other people, including superiors, will question the work of the team members.
At those moments, it is important for the manager to fully support his or her team members.
Nobody is saying that managers should blindly ignore mistakes or learning opportunities.
It is important to be seen as being fair and supportive of one’s team, even in front of the manager’s own bosses.
Everyone needs to constantly improve their communication skills as they progress in their careers.
The communication skills required for first time managers are different from those required for new employees.
New people managers need to learn to be clear, concise and straight to the point.
Learn to communicate like a Product Manager!
Every profession requires a specialization of skill sets.
Check out the special skills for product management.
If you are looking to break into product management, check out this article.
Hopefully this article gives new managers some pointers on how to start thinking about effective team management.
And again, there will be trials and errors before a manager’s unique style emerges.
The important thing is to always be on the lookout for opportunities for self improvement.
In addition to the above tips and tricks for excellent team management, here is another useful article.
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