The ABCs Of Managing A Team, Part I

By Alyssa Gregory
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ABCsIf you are a team leader, have a staff of your own, or subcontract work regularly, there are certain things you can do to promote a healthy, efficient and successful team environment. If you are new to managing others, this can be very overwhelming.

Here is Part I of the ABCs of managing a team to get new leaders off on the right foot, and to provide a check-in for even the most seasoned managers.

Acknowledge Good Work

When a team member does a good job with a task or project, let them know. This is one of the easiest morale builders for a team. It can also be an effective way to build team unity and loyalty.

Be Honest

It’s tough when you have to tell someone they’re missing the mark or that they’re not fulfilling their responsibilities. But unfortunately, you will eventually have to do this as a manager. Being honest, direct and respectful can make an uncomfortable situation much easier to handle.

Communicate Effectively

Your team looks to you for direction and feedback. If you team is repeatedly falling short, you should take a look at your own communication process. It’s possible you’re not giving complete and clear information, and communicating instructions in an effective way.

Don’t Throw Them Under the Bus

Everyone makes mistakes, but as the team leader, you are ultimately responsible. One of the worst things you can do as a manager is hang one of your people out to dry for an error. Everyone should be accountable within the team, but ultimately, you need to go to bat for your team members and support them every time.

Evaluate Performance

Regular check-ins go a long way in keeping the team working like a well-oiled machine. Let your team members know where they are striving and where they need more work, and give them an opportunity to let you know their take on the situation.

Form Relationships

A part of managing a team is getting to know the people that are working with you. All relationships do not have to take on a personal nature, but building genuine collaborative relationships are key.

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

While part of leading a team is taking the fall when something goes wrong, you also get to share in your team members’ success. But be sure the celebration trickles down to the individuals in the trenches, doing the work. Share the credit and acknowledge their personal role in the success.

Hire the Right People

Whether it’s hiring an employee or subcontractor, you want to make sure you are bringing the right person on board. You should not only make sure they have the right skill set but the right personality to mesh with the group.

Identify and Share Goals

You already know the importance of goals in a business, but don’t overlook the value in sharing those goals with your team. There can be a lot gained from having everyone working toward the same goals and using the same measures for their success.

Just Delegate

A big hurdle for new managers is feeling secure about delegating work. As difficult as that may be in the beginning, it’s the first step for building a team. Be confident in your team members, give them all of the necessary information, and trust that they will get the job done.

Keep the Team Updated

Projects rarely go exactly as planned. Client needs change, specifications morph and new paths arise. Make sure all of the new information on a project gets passed on to your team members every step of the way.

Listen to Feedback

Each of your team members will have their own past experience and lessons they’ve learned along the way. Ask for and listen to their input and you may be surprised at the value they bring to the table.

Monitor Work

You’ve picked a great team, you’re delegating work, and things seem to be going really well. But don’t fall asleep at the wheel. Stay active in the process and periodically check on the work your team is completing in order to stay informed and in the know every step of the way.

Be sure to read Part II, which covers N-Z of the ABCs of managing a team.

Image credit: Cecile Graat

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  • Kamal

    This is a pretty comprehensive and to the point article.

    Having spent many years managing technical and non-technical teams there are a few things that work across the board.

    Number 1 has to be engage your staff and find out exactly where their skills lie, you could find hidden talents that can be tapped into quite easily.
    With this comes a certain amount of responsibility on your staff to be able to handle a little more freedom to express themselves constructively.

    Micro managing never really worked. Weekly meetings should be structured and belong to the team and not just to the team leader, let them identify how they can work with team mates on certain issues in the meeting with a mind to schedule some time together outside the meeting to work through business/ project related problems.

    You have to steer the team not own them,. there is a lot of psychology involved, but really you don’t have to be a scientist to work out when something is not going the way it should. Be vigilant and tackle problems pro-actively. Create an open channel with your team members, both in a forum and one on one. These really enhance the team spirit and gives people greater value.

    Finally, genuine praise goes a long way. If you don’t have a budget to reward your team, no problem, be the one to initiate team outings or events, this will give your team a way of standing out over the other teams in the firm and instill a working pride that last during and after working hours.


  • antirealm

    I believe a culture of enthusiasm is an important point. People like to have fun while taking pride in their own work. Being a role model is important. I find people work harder when they see other people happily working hard. A whisper of competition between the team can also do good to give people incentive to work harder and not look like the lazy guy. Buying reward beer for people can help too ;]

  • ashwin_nirmul@ml

    I don’t think you’re using the word “striving” correctly.

  • I like the topic you have covered here Alyssa. Hopefully I’ll get to use your advice soon, I just need to see if I can find some good subcontractors first. Any ideas on how to find good subcontractors? Where do I go looking for good web designers and developers?