Effective teams with ineffective leadership do not exist. Raise your hand if you believe that efficiency and constructive work processes start with management – exactly!
Even though your team is both adaptable and carries out projects without any problems, you may still need inspiration to lift your team to a whole new level.
In this article, you get 9 strategies, which, in all probability, will benefit your team’s efficiency and strengthen their collaboration.
- What is the purpose of your team?
- What is success?
- When are we done?
- Don’t move the finish line
- Clear tasks – clear responsibilities – clear expectations
- Make a standardised reporting system
- Make a feedback loop
- There is always a hierarchy
- Stand behind your team
Make sure that everyone on the team knows why the team exists and what value they bring to the company.
Early on in the process, it’s extremely important that you define what “a success” means for the team – and how you measure it. Without clear goals, you will never be able to know when to celebrate.
Make sure that the tasks/projects of the team are defined in a way so that it is sometimes possible to make a checkmark and say – “job’s done!”. Keeping tasks “open” draws energy from the team and will eventually lead to frustration. It is better to divide larger projects or tasks into smaller components, both in order to track progress, but also to provide the mental and emotional relief of getting a task done and actually finishing the job.
As a team manager, it’s important to clarify when something is an addition (for example a new task or a new challenge), and also to point out when the team members have not completed what they set out to do. A few things can drag the energy out of a team; for example, when they feel they have almost reached their goal, but suddenly realise this is not the case. Therefore, draw a line in the sand instead, and clearly state when a task is a new one.
It’s very important to make sure that everyone in the team knows what he or she is supposed to do. Assigning several people the responsibility of doing the same job is an almost certain way to create confusion, frustration, conflict, and to miss deadlines.
When everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.
In order to track the progress, achievements, bottlenecks, and problems within a team, it is very important that you have a standardised reporting system. What system you use is not important, as long as everyone is on the same page. It’s totally fine that each team member sends an email every day giving a status on his or her progress. However, it’s not fine if half the team is reporting through a task management system, tracking time and progress there, and the rest is sending mails or filling in excel sheets. It makes it impossible to get a structured overview of what goes on, and it makes the team members who are “following the rules” very frustrated.
Information doesn’t flow through a team by itself. It needs to be an active, conscious process. Make sure there are clear channels for how to distribute information within the team. Make a Slack-channel, do daily/weekly status meetings, make a guide for when to email people directly and when to cc other team members, to avoid information overflow.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you have a flat structure in a team. You don’t. There might not be a formalised hierarchy, but there will definitely be an informal one. This doesn’t need to be a bad thing, and it’s not something you need to point out and put up on the wall. There is no need to wallow in it – but as a team manager, you need to be aware of the fact that a social and professional hierarchy exists in order to navigate your team effectively.
Sometimes a team isn’t running as effectively as expected. As a team manager you need to take this seriously: analyse what is causing the problem so you can mitigate the situation. Here are a few areas that can cause problems:
- Have you delegated the responsibilities to the right competencies?
- Are there administrative or other organisational constraints that prevent your team from performing their tasks efficiently?
- Have you been clear enough in your task formulation?
- If bad relationships arise in your team, you need to take action and possibly remove a person from your team.
All in all, good team management is about communication, structure, planning (most people hate surprises) and clarification of expectations. The first step towards improving team effectiveness is to ensure that everyone is on the same page, that everyone is heard, and that the team as a whole is steered towards the same goal.
If you work with the implementation of IT solutions in your organisation, then you probably also know how important a role the corporate culture plays in relation to achieving a successful implementation.