There’s a reason why managing teams isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Dealing with people from different backgrounds, with wide ranging aspirations and experiences, of different gender and age groups; it’s a tough job! One needs to have those exceptional skills in order to hold together diversified individuals into a group and make them work together to achieve common objectives.
The challenge is not only for those managing teams within the same physical office, but the growing trend of geographically dispersed employees has set the alarm bells ringing for the modern managers. In a survey done on groups of executives who were responsible for either entire corporation or large business units, it was reported that only 30 per cent of their time was spent in productive collaboration.
To help a team grow and run like a well-oiled machine, here are my six uncommon ways for effective team management. I hope you’ll find these useful.
1. Powerful conversations
Effective leadership can take a team to sky reaching heights. And, since leadership is about communication, it is quite crucial for a manager to be an excellent speaker. On a practical level, not only the verbal communication but the manager should be efficient enough to carry out conversations with the team. It can be in the form of a small talk before the meeting, a little chatter at the watercooler or taking an update while in the elevator. Whenever there’s a meeting, mark these checkpoints:
- Have an agenda for the meeting
- Give others the time to think - embrace silence
- Ask questions - what, when, where, how, etc.
These little communication initiatives in the form of day to day exchange of information contributes towards effective leadership and shapes the culture within your team as well.
2. Make room for unpopular viewpoints
Never take a dim view of those having distinctive opinions from the rest. People within a team who make points for improvements should always be encouraged; a good manager should make sure that there’s enough space for diverse opinions. You never know when an opinion from someone who sees flaws in the way the team does things can lead to much better performance. Ask and inquire for particular viewpoints so that everyone gets the opportunity to share what they feel. Analyse the pros and cons of each of these suggestions before making a verdict.
3. Balance between homogeneity and heterogeneity
The extent to which members within a team are similar or different to each other should be balanced. Considering team members’ personal attributes, skills, capabilities, background, education, behaviour, financial level, a manager can evaluate how much homogeneous or heterogeneous a team is. Besides advantages like better cohesiveness and effective communication, overly homogeneous teams can lead to groupthink. Such situations at times makes a group with similar viewpoints suppress those with opposite viewpoints. Furthermore, overly heterogeneous teams though have the advantage of more diverse opinions and creativity but members of such teams might not be able to connect and understand each other effectively.
4. Ensure right team structure
The way a team is structured puts a lot of impact on the way it functions. Having exactly the right team in place with appropriate roles and responsibilities assigned ensures smooth communication, better reporting relationships, efficient resource utilization, and much more…
The basic thing here is to understand that every team is designed in its own unique way depending upon the work to be done by them. For example, each and every object in the structure of a building is made to serve its purpose. Similarly, in a team each and every member works toward the desired output. It is therefore quite important for a manager to evaluate the structure of his team. Here’s what to keep in mind while doing so:
- Structuring should be done according to your project strategy
- People operating on different roles should match with their jobs
- Autonomy and control should be kept balanced
5. Supplement your team with appropriate tools
There’s no denying the fact that in order to do their best, your team needs right tools at their disposal. This helps them to do their work quickly and efficiently which keeps project schedules and budgets on track. Technological tools and technologies have made our lives so much easier than ever - whether it is about sharing a design file with the approval authority or connecting with a remote colleague. Cloud based project management and collaboration tools like ProofHub can transform a good team into an excellent and smart one.
6. Figure out the good and the bad when conflicts happen
Although conflicts within a team are inevitable but these need not be a bad thing always; it’s a normal part of a team’s life. While conflict can lead to blamestorming, a good leader should try to resolve it on a healthy note. Always remember the words of Richard Bach “Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.” So always try to turn a conflict into a constructive opportunity. Here’s how:
- A good leader always listens carefully to both the parties
- He tries to figure out the points for agreement and disagreement
- Prepares plans beforehand for the conflicts that occur commonly
- Does not ignore conflicts rather tries to understand and resolve
In the end, I would like to summarise it with an old adage by Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Image source: Shutterstock