Getting Started in Team Management 

You’ve just taken a warm sip of your morning coffee in your office breakroom, running through your mind the objectives of today’s team strategy meeting as you walk through the halls. You can hear the quiet buzz of your employees from outside the conference room, engrossed in conversation about their weekend and what’s to come. But as you open the door, it’s as if a cold breeze swept through the room, a silence following your entry that could turn your fresh coffee stale. 

As a leader, this can be a waking nightmare and cause you to wonder how it is your team has gotten to this state. Why is it that when you walk into the room, there is a sudden “hush”? Why is it that during your strategy meetings, it’s you who does most of the talking? 

Have you ever asked yourself those questions before? If you have, you may be faced with a problem that stretches beyond your team meetings. 

It’s common for team leaders to be faced with the hurdle of managing their team in a way that promotes a spirit of progress. Yes, getting over this hurdle in your company culture is easier said than done. But the good news is that it IS possible to achieve that team spirit. And it all starts with us as individuals. 

Whether you’re an aspiring leader, a newly appointed one, or a seasoned manager — learning how to lead, manage, and support is vital to your success and that of your team. The title of ‘Team Manager’ is not a job that should be taken lightly. Your quality as a leader not only affects your team but the company as well.

Let’s first take a look at what good team management looks like.  Use this blog as a template for your next in-person training session on this topic.  

What Is Good Team Management?

A good team manager is able to lead a group of people in accomplishing a common goal while fulfilling their own task of strengthening and empowering the team. Whether it is by what we say or how we lead, a good team manager adds to the energy of the organization— not drains it. Developing the mindset that you have a team, not just employees, will help you to lead with empathy, confidence, and appreciation. 

I appreciate Merriam-Websters’ definition of management. It describes management as an art. I can’t ever say that one day I just woke up and suddenly became a great artist. No, being a great artist happens over time. I would have to work daily to develop skills, to learn about different methods and specific tools. Similarly, becoming a great team manager is something that is developed, it isn’t instantaneous. 

So, what skills do we need to develop?

What Skills Do Team Leaders Need?

1. Communication

Two employees struggling to communicate

I put this as number one because, without it, your whole project can fall apart. Communication is vital both on your end and your team’s. Even just one error in communication can set projects back considerably. Leaders should set the tone by being very clear and detailed on expectations, instructions, and efficiency. Being able to properly communicate the policies and processes that need to be carried out within your organization can make a world of difference in your team dynamic. You’ll be surprised at the changes that will be visible when you take the lead in communicating with your team. When everyone knows where others are in their processes, projects can get done ahead of schedule. When a mistake is made, you won’t be the last to know because the line of communication will start with you, not end. 

Sometimes it helps to make a checklist for yourself during an important project that you can look back on regularly. It may look a little something like this: 

  • Have I checked in with my team today to see if there are any urgent matters to discuss?
  • Have the tasks been properly delegated to each individual? Do they understand the details of their task?
  • As the project progresses, do I need to reassign roles to even out the workload? 
  • Have I organized things in a way that my team feels comfortable approaching me with any mistakes that need to be remedied? 
  • Are we on schedule, or is there something that is setting us back?

Good communication may require a shift into the “we” mindset. When going through your checklist and talking to your team members, make sure that the words “we” and “us” are more common than “you” and “I.” This will help create a dynamic that your team can believe in. 

2. Empathy

Leadership fails to show empathy to a team member

What is more inviting, an enveloping warm breeze that feels like a big hug or a bone-biting and harsh one that whips around you? Even being Canadian, I will always choose the former because the latter can make anyone feel extremely uncomfortable. What do you want to radiate when you talk to your team? The cold breeze, or the warm one?

Having empathy for your team is pivotal in your team management skills. Having strong empathy can help prevent conflict, progress team relations, and improve connection and communication between individuals. It’s incredibly important that your team feels comfortable approaching you when they have questions or concerns. Whether they do that is in the example you set with how you respond to problems that arise. Do you respond quickly and impulsively? Or do you use sound judgment and discernment when dealing with the imperfections of others? 

It can be frustrating to have setbacks in your projects, and it can be easy to be quick to place blame or make someone your scapegoat. But keep in mind the recent study by Flexjobs that notes that the number one reason employees quit their jobs is toxic company culture. Developing empathy for your team only improves your company’s processes and productivity and helps your team reach its goals. Be approachable, be kind, and be the warm breeze. Set a goal for yourself to create an open and safe work environment in which your team can thrive. 

3. Organization and Delegation

A team leader checks in to see that a team member has what they need to accomplish there job in an organized way

These skills go in line with communication; you can’t have one without the other. When dealing with projects, there are so many moving parts that require a high degree of organization in order for them to be completed effectively. When you are able to keep your teammates on task, keep the lines of communication open, and delegate responsibilities properly to each individual, it can create a positive and stress-free work environment. It will also increase your reliability with your team and build your reputation as a good leader. 

Make a clear plan for yourself and your team that caters to each individual project. Knowing this plan well will help you to be a good resource for any questions your team may have and help make sure that no details will be missed. Cater to people’s strengths, find out who’s best suited for the different tasks and assign them accordingly. Good tools can be spreadsheets, documents, to-do lists, and of course, strategy meetings. Stay on top of it! Ask your team for feedback to help you to improve and help the team run more smoothly. Knowing how to delegate well and stay organized will ensure the success of your team and help solidify your confidence as a leader!

The Lasting Benefits of Good Leadership

Now picture this: you walk into that conference room with your hot coffee, your team gathers around—teeming with life—as they discuss the next project. You’re welcomed by smiling, motivated team members who are all ready to contribute to the discussion and set up a plan. The environment is warm, the energy is high, and the attitudes are positive. 

What’s the difference between this scenario and the one at the beginning of this article? The difference is YOU!

The time you’ve taken to develop your skills to be the best leader your team could have has finally paid off. The employee turnover is at an all-time low, the deadlines are met and are often done ahead of schedule. Expressions of appreciation are common, and mistakes are promptly fixed. You’ve created a workplace of confidence and calm. Believing in them and showing it through word and deed has helped you reach your goal of building a strong team. 

But don’t stop here! Good leadership is done with intention, it’s not something that is ingrained in us. Look for opportunities to provide team management online training and in-person training sessions for your crew.

Keep developing new skills and refreshing the old ones. Set new goals and take steps to achieve them, and you will only prove yourself to be more of an asset to your team and your company.  

The lasting benefits of a good team leader are shown in increased productivity

Team Management – Key Takeaways

What have we learned today?  We talked about what good team management looks like and the skills that are needed.

  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Organization and delegation

We also reflected on the lasting benefits of good leadership and how that contributes to solid team management.  So use this post as a template for your next in-person training session.  Get out there and make some rockstar team managers today!