When we lived as hunter-gatherers, we always sought two basic social needs. The first is belonging, which led us to the group and, eventually, to live in cities and countries. The second is management. Communities were dependent on the leader (or leaders) to steer them and create a system that helps the community flourish. Today, we still seek those needs in our communities and our teams. So, why is team management critical?
Team Management Then And Now
Back in the day, that was easy. Having a good manager (chief, for example) meant that you would feed your family and keep them safe. But these days, when Alexa takes care of our food and we are relatively safe, good management is measured differently.
In our workplaces, team management can determine whether a team or company will reach its goals and KPIs, how processes and culture are forged, how employees are treated and retained, and more.
In recent years, since the outbreak of Covid-19, the team manager’s job has changed. Three years ago, managers were selected or promoted based on the ability to lead processes, evaluate the success of their team members, and reach KPIs. Today, it is more common for HR people to look for managers who can serve as mentors, coaches, and teachers for their employees.
Gartner’s analysis shows that 46% of the workforce is projected to be working hybrid soon, which forces managers to rethink culture. Gartner also estimates that 70% of the manager-employee interactions are remote today. It means that, in most cases, team managers do not have control over their employees’ schedules, work environment, task management, emotional state, and more. This affects the managers’ ability to forge a strong culture.
That said, managers must understand the importance of team management, and more importantly, they must learn how to do it right both for themselves and the managers below them.
Why Team Management Is Important
For that purpose, here are 7 reasons why team management is essential and tips on how to implement them in your teams.
When choosing the next people to join the team, it is crucial to select those who relate to the company’s higher purpose. It is also recommended to hire a diverse group that will include people from different backgrounds and brings fresh and innovative ideas to the team.
2. Employee Engagement
As the saying goes,
“The longest journey that people must take is the eighteen inches between their heads and their hearts.”—John Mackey
It is well known that the more the employees are engaged with the team’s and the company’s purpose, the harder they will work for it. How to do that? Here are a few ways:
One of the most efficient ways to improve employees’ engagement is by connecting them to the company’s higher purpose. To do so, encourage your team managers to talk about it occasionally, and let the employees know how each task contributes to it.
Most companies do not share their actual numbers with their employees, and even if they do so in a newsletter or a widespread email, most employees do not pay attention to it.
Employees want to feel that their job is important and that they are a big part of the company’s movement (as they are). Thus, it is recommended to share with your employees some numbers that indicate progress. To make it even more engaging, share the numbers with your team management and encourage them to share them with their teams.
While milestones are sometimes perceived as an issue of higher management, it is important to celebrate hitting them with the whole company.
When hitting a milestone, let your employees know. Share it with your team managers, appreciate the people who made this happen together, and share the next milestones to achieve.
Tony Hsieh, the late founder of Zappos.com, wrote in his book, Delivering Happiness:
“What’s the best way to build a brand for the long term? In a word: culture.”
One of the most powerful ways to create a team that delivers on time and in high quality is to build a strong culture where employees are engaged and connected to the company’s core purpose.
This is exactly when you step in as manager. Training managers in building a remote culture that serves both your organization’s purpose and your employees is important.
There is no one rule of thumb for it, as this is a complicated topic. But here are some ideas:
Make Face-to-Face Meetings Count
It’s sometimes nice to see your teams working in the office’s open space when Covid allows, but now it is rare (and in-person meetings are even more infrequent). When they do happen, make them count.
Encourage your team managers to take their teams to lunch outside the office. Plan hackathons and team activities. Those meetings will help create some of the human bonds that your employees and managers desire.
Have Daily Calls With the Team Members
Having a daily call with the team members helps managers understand the difficulties their employees are experiencing and how they can assist in dealing with them. Complications can vary from not having a comfortable workplace at home to professional challenges. Managers should have a wide range of solutions for those issues. But the only way for the managers to be aware of those issues is by talking to the employees daily.
Use Technology to Focus on the Important Stuff
Think of all the repetitive tasks your managers do—scheduling meetings, tasks division, tracking progress, etc. Frankly, some of these tasks need automation. A study made by HBR found that “more than one in four companies have invested in new technology to monitor their remote employees during the pandemic.” They also estimate that by 2024, more than 60% of the managers’ tasks will be replaced with technology.
Does it mean that team management is no longer necessary? The answer is no. It means that now, managers are left with more time to invest in building culture, planning the future of the team and team members, serving more as a coach and mentor, and less like traffic policing.
Encourage your managers to use new technologies and truly understand how to make the most out of them.
Jim Collins, an American author, wrote: “If you have more than 3 priorities, then you don’t have any.”
We, as managers, are used to being productive, staying focused, and keeping ourselves on track towards our personal and professional goals. We are familiar with all sorts of systems for productivity, such as time blocking, Inbox Zero, and GTD. But how can we help our teams to be more productive, too?
Well, productivity is a huge deal at first. You can improve so many areas—meetings, time management, communication, technology, culture, decision making, processes, and so much more. So, what is the key to success here? You guessed that right: focus.
Along with your team management, build a productivity improvement plan, and start with the three most important areas. Then, set the goals for that project, and the team managers will communicate that and the management’s expectations to their teams.
Make sure you and your team management set a good example. Be there on time (or join the video meeting one minute before), set your goals, and be productive.
5. Developing Team Members (Including the Managers)
You spotted a leadership seed in your employee and decided to promote them for a manager role. You choose your managers carefully and, hopefully, train them well for the job. Now, it’s in their hands to spot the potential in their employees and help them evolve and grow within the organization.
Career pathing and being transparent about your plans for the employee are crucial in maintaining and engaging employees. And It’s your team management’s job to do that. How?
First, the manager needs to step out from the employee position and stop doing their jobs for them. That will allow the manager to observe the team members’ progress and focus on managing instead of executing.
Then, the manager would need to encourage the employees to talk about their aspirations and set goals together. In their monthly 1:1 meetings, the manager and the employee would check what progress they have made in the passing month towards those goals and what they should do in the next month.
Building an innovative team is important and challenging. When aiming for innovation, you will need to prepare yourself for failures (not that this should be a problem for entrepreneurs) from team members and for outcomes that you would never expect (good or bad), which is not an easy task.
Although it is hard, building an innovative team is not “mission impossible.” With a combination of hard work and some tricks, you should get there.
We already covered some things like engaging your employees and building a strong culture, and it’s time for one more important topic: creating a safe space for ideas.
Ray Dalio, the founder and CEO of Bridgewater hedge fund, called it in his TED talk, “creating a place where the best ideas win. “ Dalio talked about creating a space where every employee has the same chance to share their ideas and get honest feedback from everyone involved, no matter their seniority level.
Another tip for creating a safe space is to conduct a “dumb brainstorming” where every participant must share their dumbest ideas on how to solve a problem. This way, you can tear down the walls of shame people carry to regular brainstorming meetings and declare that no idea is dumb to you.
7. It Creates Magic
Some teams perform on average, and some perform better. This team always performs way better and, sometimes, you don’t even know why. For some reason, this team manages to outperform the others by a lot. They work faster, deliver better, and bring innovative solutions.
They have some kind of magic. Well, as far as science knows, magic does not exist in real life. So how, then, do they manage to do so well? This well-balanced combination of all of the above makes the best teams best.
So, how can you provide this magic to your team management?
Share your thought about this and similar articles with them, let them know how much you think team management is important. Tell them that you believe that with your help, they can create magic in their teams.
Why is team management so important? There could be a million answers. But when thinking about it, this is all about people and how they interact with each other. Thus, team managers have a huge power to affect both the employees’ lives and the whole company’s performance.
In these complicated days, the manager’s job has changed. They must understand that and think of how they can integrate better into their employees’ lives, help them deal with the toughness of working remotely, be more conscious of their employees’ needs, and motivate and improve them both personally and professionally.
More Tips for Team Management
Featured photo credit: Jason Goodman via unsplash.com