In the traditional business model, organizations were typically set up in a hierarchy with each person in the organization having a well-defined role and set of responsibilities. In today’s world, organizations are becoming much flatter, with more of an emphasis on cross-functional and cooperative problem solving.
This change in organizational structure also has an impact on team management, management techniques, and management strategies. It has become less and less acceptable to this new generation in the workforce to answer to and follow an authoritarian leader.
Today’s leader is much more likely to be viewed as a “facilitator” than a traditional team leader.
So, with this new reality in mind, here are some effective methods of team management for today’s corporate culture:
1. Establishing and Maintaining Trust
In order for any team to be effective, the members need to have trust in one another to:
- Deliver on promises
- Put the needs of the team first
- Understand how their individual actions affect the team as a whole
- Be able to count on one another to help each other out
It can take some time to establish trust and the bonds that accompany it. But there are some things you can do to promote it:
- Be tolerant of mistakes. They are bound to happen especially if people are new to the team. Providing an atmosphere that allows team members to admit mistakes without fear of retribution encourages open communication.
- Encourage open communication. Being tolerant of mistakes is a good start, however, it takes more than that. Actively seek out input from your team members. Have weekly brainstorming sessions that are completely non-judgmental. Utilize team-building exercises.
- Be flexible. Lose the mindset that says we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way. If someone comes up with a better solution and you’re receptive, it will encourage others to come up with better solutions too.
- Be transparent. Nothing kills trust like keeping secrets.
2. Develop Relationships
One of the often-overlooked team management strategies is to develop relationships with those you manage. It’s just a fact of life that people do a better job and work harder for people they like.
Now, we’re not saying that you have to invite them to your house for Sunday dinner. But a beer after work, a lunch or a pizza party where you get to know your team members better is a good start.
And again, this is another area where you want to encourage your team members to develop relationships with one another.
Try scheduling team-building exercises on a weekly or monthly basis (note: schedule these during work hours, they are work-related). Bowling and dart leagues are good too. Really, almost any cooperative team activity can strengthen relationships.
3. Know Your Role as a Leader
Good team management strategy requires that you know your role as a leader.
The role of a leader is, by nature dynamic, it changes both situationally and over time. In simple terms, know when to lead and when to step back.
Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t intervene when problems arise. After all, one of the advantages of the above mentioned team management software is the ability spot issues early before they become major problems.
So, when is it appropriate to step into a situation and when is it okay to leave it alone? While there is no hard and fast rule, a good plan of action is to:
- Inquire – Note, that I didn’t say intervene. The first step is to inquire with the team member to get a better understanding of the nature of the problem. Is it a personal issue, a training issue, too much on their plate?
- Evaluate – Is this a problem that will get worse without intervention? Is it a temporary hiccup?
- Decide on an action – Will shifting a portion of the workload to another team member help? How about letting them take a personal day for issues at home? Or, maybe no action is required which is still an action.
- Monitor – What effect did your decision have on the issue and adjust accordingly.
4. Take Advantage of Other People’s Knowledge and Skill Sets
A good team management strategy is always to use people’s skills and abilities as efficiently as possible. And as a leader, you need to recognize that you aren’t fully aware of everyone’s knowledge base.
The whole point of having a team is to take advantage of the different skill sets each team member has. While this may seem obvious, what many managers forget is that people’s expertise and skillsets can overlap.