Teamwork is key to success – of the individual, the company, and any project they undertake. The thing is, it isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Like anything else in life, good team management takes practice, patience and most importantly, a plan. But what should that plan include?
Well, we’ve crafted a comprehensive guide to developing a successful plan for team management, covering everything from getting to know your colleagues to managing their runaway successes. Let’s dive in!
It’s Time to Understand Your Team
The first step towards a successful team management plan is understanding your team. They are both the sources and the solution to any hiccups you may encounter in your teamwork, so it pays to understand them on more than a superficial level.
First, get to grips with each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. A good way to start is simply asking – interviews have come a long way since the cliched “I just work too hard” was an acceptable answer. Of course, this direct approach doesn’t work for everyone, so it’s also worth getting feedback from co-workers, paying attention to their successes and mistakes, and looking for any themes that appear.
The same approach can be used to gauge the overall team dynamics and communication styles. Many people in the workforce have been there for a while and will have a good understanding of what communication style works for them. Similarly, observing your team in a work and non-work settings can help to build a clear picture of your team workflow and dynamics.
When understanding how your team currently operates, it’s important to identify their roles and responsibilities. We’re not talking about what’s on their job description (although that’s useful, of course); we’re talking about what they actually do on a day-to-day basis. It’s common for team members to pick up extra tasks that weren’t thought about before hiring, and understanding how these shape the individual and team dynamic is vital. This will also help establish a baseline for your team’s performance, which you can judge future success against.
Finally, try setting some goals and expectations for your team management. Treat it like you would any other project, and be clear about where you’re going and what you want to find there.
Creating a Plan for Team Management Success
With that out of the way, it’s time to get down to the proper plan. As well as creating team goals, ensure your team management plan includes clear individual objectives and KPIs. These help team members feel more comfortable in their roles – they know what they are supposed to be doing and why, which reduces friction and any “stepping on toes” that can happen in a group. Similarly, having a robust timeline with project milestones and deadlines lets team members know what’s going on in the big picture so they can focus on their individual parts while still feeling in the loop.
What’s more, having a well-established project timeline with milestones and deadlines for your team reduces the amount of micromanaging that’s needed, building a level of trust between them and you. This is invaluable when it comes to long-term team management. Additionally, a good plan also allows for the more efficient allocation of resources since your team knows who is doing what and when, with tools and time distributed accordingly.
Next, it’s important to identify any potential problems that might come up along the way. This doesn’t have to be a negative, fear-mongering activity. Instead, you and your team should use the potential roadblocks you’ve highlighted to develop contingency plans. This helps mitigate any problems in the future while building team cohesion in the present.
Additionally, if things aren’t working, don’t be afraid to change. The plan you lay out at the start isn’t necessarily going to be the best one going forward. Go back to the beginning (understanding your team) regularly and use that insight to review and adjust the plan as needed.
Finally, use the right tool for the job. There is so much new technology out there that can help you build and keep a successful team – use it! Get started with a unified communications platform in which all the productivity, communication, and collaboration tools you need are bundled into one application. When it comes to team management, you’ll need to look for features like:
Business chat (Instant messaging)
Audio calls (VOIP)
Data sharing (online notes or interactive whiteboards)
Unified messaging (integrated voicemail, email, SMS, and fax)
Combining these tools into a single platform can help your team management plan just like the goals, objectives, KPIs, and deadline, with every individual empowered to work when and how they like, knowing they have support. Max Shcherbakov, for example, the co-founder and CEO of Hooligans, a creative agency in Tel Aviv, said he uses Spike as a unified communication tool to support his team. “Spike Groups improved workflow between our teams and across our clients since they now had a collaborative workspace that didn’t require logins. All that project history and all needed files in one place,” Shcherbakov says.
This allows his team to feel confident that they have what they need to communicate well, freeing them up to focus on getting stuff done.
Communication and Collaboration
With the right tools in hand, you can take steps to ensure your team’s communication and collaboration is as strong as they can be. This should start by simply encouraging open and effective communication between team members through direct reminders and setting up dedicated communication channels that your team members can use. It’s amazing how far a little encouragement can go in creating an environment where people feel comfortable sharing in a productive way.
Similarly, you’ll need to foster an environment where collaboration is the norm. This will most likely begin with more formal collaborations, set up by you. But, provided with the right tools and a framework based on past collaborations, your team will be working together daily in no time.
A big part of good team communication and collaboration is feedback. It allows projects to use the best of everyone’s ideas and skills while the individuals involved have the opportunity to learn and grow. To ensure this happens, you need a solid knowledge-sharing program. This way, feedback can be followed by a clear path to learn from it.
Feedback is often seen in a negative light as it can be associated with things going wrong, but that is a misbelief, as feedback enables teams to improve their processes by helping them figure out how things can be done better based on previous results. When creating a culture of feedback, it is also important to place emphasis on recognizing team members’ successes and encouraging others to do the same. This will help build a highly supportive environment where people feel valued.
As you move forward, it’s important to manage the performance of your team. This is vital for your company, of course, but can also help each individual member improve and grow in their career. The first step to managing performance is measuring performance. You need to regularly evaluate each individual as well as your overall team. The goals, baselines, and KPIs that you set earlier in your team management journey are vital now since these are what you need to measure performance against.
After measurement comes feedback, which should be delivered using the channels mentioned above. Base the type and level of feedback you give on each individual since everybody responds differently. This should, as mentioned, include a learning opportunity through knowledge sharing, coaching, or even a mentorship program.
As you go through these steps, continuously look for areas where the team or individual performance could improve – there will always be something you could do better. Once you do identify opportunities, create an action plan and fold it into your broader team management.
Finally, in addition to looking for weaknesses to improve, highlight successes to reward! Just like with your feedback and recognition, you can help regulate and manage the performance of your team and the individuals in it by offering incentives and rewards. These can range from a scoreboard in the office (or online) to monetary bonuses for high performance. How exactly you approach these rewards will depend on your company, but more importantly, on your individual team members, who, by now, you should know very well!
Team Management: a Plan for Success
Good team management is an ongoing process that you need to address, adapt and improve upon over time. Remember that the first and most important step is getting to know your individual team members, from strengths and weaknesses to team dynamics. After that, it’s time to craft a solid plan:
- Set objectives, KPIs, and a clear timeline with milestones, so every team member knows what they’re doing when they’re doing it, and why it matters.
- Identify any potential problems and create contingency plans to be ready for the future while boosting team cohesion today.
- Continually reassess your plan, and don’t be afraid to change. Chances are that the first plan isn’t the one you’ll end up with, and that’s ok!
- Finally, use the right tools for the job. Good tech can make or break a team, especially when it comes to communication and collaboration, so ensure that this is a core part of your team management plan.
With these steps in mind, you’re ready to develop a successful team management plan at your company. All that’s left is to get started!