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I believe that the role of a team manager is not just to oversee, but also to lead and motivate the team. Managers are expected to create an environment based on trust, fostering collaboration and achieving shared success. However, creating the right conditions requires mutual effort – engagement is needed from all team members.

In this article, I present 10 tips primarily aimed at managers that will help ensure the right conditions for team development and mobilize the members for collaboration. I base these tips on my own experiences, the latest scientific research, and the opinions of other experts, as I aim to provide as accurate advice as possible, which I myself have strived to implement.

I know that sometimes it’s easier said than done, but my first step is to inspire and encourage you. Choose what seems useful to you to start with, and gradually try to incorporate additional tips. I’m rooting for you!

1. Establish a shared purpose

A shared goal significantly impacts the success of a team by improving the synchronization of actions and providing a sense of direction. It also aids in decision-making when faced with competing options.

Consider, for example, a team of developers each working on different modules. When they have a unifying goal, such as “creating a user-friendly mobile application that helps visually impaired people communicate”, they can make more accurate decisions about priorities. And as we know, “time is always limited”, and we often face the necessity of making difficult choices.

Another example could be a customer service team that adopts the shared goal of “achieving customer satisfaction measured by a low number of complaints”. This goal will help each team member tailor their actions to ensure customer happiness. (Alternatively, they could make it difficult to file complaints, which would also affect their number, but of course, no one would do that…)

On a side note, I am currently reading the book “Powered by Purpose,” which argues that a company’s shared goal, serving something greater than itself, has a significant impact on its success. I will likely return to this topic in future posts.

2. Distribute responsibility fairly

Tasks should be divided among team members based on their competencies (knowledge, experience, seniority, etc.). However, it’s important to occasionally change the scope of responsibilities and ensure that knowledge is distributed. This will not only help your team members grow and experience a sense of renewal, but it will also ensure that work continues smoothly during their absence.

Team leaders and work distribution tips

Team leaders should ensure a fair distribution of responsibilities. At the same time, it’s important to give everyone the opportunity to prove themselves occasionally, as this can positively impact the perception of an employee’s work.

I will likely write more posts about delegating tasks and dividing responsibilities, as it’s a very broad topic. I invite you to subscribe to the newsletter – the subscription form is below the article.

3. Ensure proper transparency

Open communication is vital for building trust within a team. Regular team meetings (for example: weekly) where everyone is encouraged to speak up about challenges and achievements can foster this openness. Another effective approach is to have regular one-on-one check-ins between team members and the manager. This provides a private space for discussing individual concerns and aspirations, further strengthening the bonds of trust within the team.

I want to add one more thought that is somewhat related to the scope of responsibility, but let’s include it here. It’s important to also ensure fairness in the assessment of work, salaries, and bonuses. This doesn’t mean that salaries should be transparent – I’m moderately sceptical about that. However, it’s crucial to establish a single measure that is applied to everyone on the team.

4. Beware of selfishness

Activities purely out of self-interest can harm the team’s performance. If a team member takes all the easy tasks to look good, it can lead to resentment and decreased team results. On the flip side, a team where members are willing to take on challenging tasks not only for individual growth but also for the team’s benefit is more likely to succeed.

Reciprocating help among team members fosters a collaborative environment. In a sales team, if one member helps another close a deal, the favour should be returned when the opportunity arises. This cycle of give-and-take builds a supportive team culture where everyone is invested in each other’s success.

5. Develop emotional intelligence

Developing emotional intelligence is crucial for understanding team dynamics and the motivations of each individual team member. Being aware of employees’ personal situations and offering some flexibility (within reason, of course) can lead to increased loyalty and greater effectiveness. Moreover, emotional intelligence allows for more effective conflict management within the team, ensuring that minor misunderstandings are less likely to escalate into major issues.

Interesting note: A study on managers who practice servant leadership found that their approach positively impacts effectiveness in conflict management. According to this approach, when, for example, two employees disagree on how to approach a project, the manager should mediate and help find a compromise. We can say that the manager acts as a mediator, and this approach not only helps resolve the current issue but also establishes the expected way of dealing with conflicts. I believe, however, that in certain situations a manager must act decisively and demonstrate their strength.

It’s important for managers to also establish healthy boundaries and create a supportive environment for themselves as well (for example, to share experiences outside the team and seek advice from peers or superiors). To be patient and show emotional intelligence, you also need to take care of your own well-being.

Team leaders and changes

It’s important to remember that change is a constant part of life. I encourage team leaders to not only think about the future but also to stay present in the here and now. This approach will enable them to notice and appreciate changes more effectively.

6. Be hungry for knowledge

It’s not a new revelation, but it bears repeating – supporting team development is crucial for long-term success. Regular training sessions or workshops can keep the team up-to-date with the latest trends. A well-thought-out development plan not only aligns with individual needs but also adds value to the team as a whole. If you don’t have a sufficient budget, encourage team members to share knowledge – what they’ve recently discovered or learned from a mistake (I recommend reading the article on lessons learned from failures). Teaching is the best way to reinforce knowledge.

None of us is as smart as all of us.
~Ken Blanchard

Important insight: According to research, courses account for only 10% of our development. 70% of our growth comes from daily work (practice), and the remaining 20% is sourced from feedback, coaching, and the examples we receive.

7. Maintain flexibility

Teams should be organized in a way that allows them to respond effectively to changes. This includes both seizing emerging opportunities and avoiding threats. Adaptability is not just about reacting to external factors but also encompasses internal events, such as new team members joining, existing members taking on new roles, or sudden health-related absences. We have the most control over changes that occur within our teams, which are also the most frequent.

8. Remember the Customer (with a capital C)

Teams should focus on the customer’s perspective (or more broadly, the value that their work provides) and systematically improve the quality of the services delivered. Customer feedback should be regularly analysed and taken into account.

A customer-centric approach ensures that the team remains aligned with market needs and expectations, thereby contributing more to the overall success of the company. Simultaneously, it reminds team members that just as the leader supports the team, the team should be there for the client.

9. Leverage diversity

When individuals with different perspectives come together, it creates an excellent environment for innovation. This diversity isn’t just about skills; it also encompasses cultural background, gender, and age. Almost everyone can bring some value to the team.

For innovation to flourish, organizations must create an environment that fosters creativity; bringing together multi-talented groups of people who work in close collaboration together.
~Linda Naiman

10. Evaluate and make adjustments

I’m a proponent of systematic development, so I encourage you to regularly assess your team’s work results and make necessary adjustments. For example, monthly performance reviews (e.g., based on reports on completed tasks) can help identify areas for improvement and provide an opportunity to commend good work. This iterative process fosters team growth and openness to feedback, both in giving and receiving.

However, evaluating team members is only half the journey. If you’re a team leader, also scrutinize your own work and the organizational principles you’ve adopted within the team. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Effective team management is a complex interplay of various elements, including trust, a shared vision, and open communication. I’m convinced that by implementing these 10 tips, team leaders can build a more cohesive team that will achieve not just one, but multiple successes.

This article doesn’t exhaust the topic – there are likely many more ideas worth considering that either didn’t occur to me or didn’t fit within the scope of these 10 points. I invite you to comment and share your own tips.

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