Team management: how to setup for success

Arjen Swank

Setting your team up for success starts with team management. If team management fails to prepare accordingly, the team cannot be expected to succeed. There are many ways to prepare and implement strategies, but they may not always promise a successful outcome. In this article, we provide an overview of team management, team management strategies, and the pros and cons that come with them.

Team management: how to setup for success

The difference between a team leader and a team manager

Most companies often merge the team lead and team management position into one, but each role has their own set of responsibilities. A team leader is the pilar of the team: they act as a facilitator between the team and team management, while their focus mostly lays with supporting the team itself. By providing them direct support and coaching, they can help drive both parties to a successful outcome. A team manager’s responsibility is generally to represent the company from team management perspective. They ensure expectations are met in relation to targets, productivity, finances, policies, profitability, etc. on behalf of the director.

Team management strategies for managing high-performance teams

Managing a high-performance team can be challenging, but there is enough support, education, and preparation that can be done to avoid the team from falling apart or at least catch it at an early stage. It is pivotal that team management acts through a people driven strategy. This can be best done by building a profile of the team through analyzing the team members as individuals. You are simply asking: “who is on my team?”

You can start by determining a team member’s experience, strengths and weaknesses, and interests to establish how these assets can complement the team and where they require additional support. Once you have gotten to know your team members as individuals, you can outline the team as a whole: what are the strengths and weaknesses of the team? Where could they benefit of coaching?

And lastly, building trust between team management and the team, but also within the team itself, is important when pursuing a positive outcome. As a team manager, you must lead by example. Therefore, it is important that you communicate clearly and transparently what the goals are. This can help the team understand what their expectations are and how they can contribute. Once every team member has a clear understanding of their position within the team, it will be easier for them to build trust amongst each other and collaborate as a team and with team management.

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Team management strategies for managing a new team

The same guidelines apply when managing a new team. However, before implementing any strategy, it is best to first establish the norms and values you want to adhere to. This is set up by the team manager in conjunction with the team itself through a conversation regarding expectations and goals from both perspectives. By determining the rules of engagement, everyone gains a clear understanding of their individual roles as well as that of their team members. Building this foundation can help you build trust and respect, and will likely lead to a successful collaboration, which can benefit the implementation of future strategies.

Team management: how to manage objectives

Team objectives can encourage collaboration and growth while boosting motivation. If a team regularly completes their objectives, their motivation can increase due to a sense of accomplishment. This also showcases the affect both their individual and team contribution has on the overall process. 

Setting up team objectives is no easy task. They must be achievable, clear, and productive but also challenging. However, you do not want overwhelm the team with an extreme difficulty level or an unreasonably high amount of objectives.

First, it is important that team management clearly communicates the objectives and outlines any KPI’s, including deadlines, if possible. This can steer the team into the right direction as they understand what their responsibilities and expectations are, especially if it is time sensitive. Then, setup a review framework, which should be shared with the team for transparency reasons. Regular reviews of KPI’s can help team management provide feedback and make improvements in a timely manner. However, try to avoid micromanaging. Give your team the space to work autonomously to gain trust. This can help create an output driven team, where employees will feel encouraged to proactively contribute to the company rather than doing the bare minimum.

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Effective team management strategies

There are many team management strategies in place, of which the outcome is determined by several factors, such as the product, service, size of the team, time frame, etc. The sales team’s strategy may not bring the same success to the customer service department as it could be specifically targeted to drive sales instead of delivering the required support. However, there are a few strategies that are always applicable.

The big do’s are transparency and honesty. Ensuring that goals are setup clearly and that possibilities are communicated transparently can build trust and productivity. Continuously boosting the team through positive re-enforcement can also keep them motivated and ensure high engagement.

The big don’ts that come with these strategies are lack of implementing them or implementing them incorrectly. For instance, when there is lack of sharing information or if team management shares information selectively, it does not create equal opportunities, respect, and trust. Lack of rewarding good behavior or rewarding bad behavior can trickle down negatively in the long run. This damages trust and respect in team management and the company culture. In addition, if there is no possibility to raise such concerns or if the company is unwilling to address problematic behavior, it will affect the strategies you are trying to implement.

However, the most important strategy of all, is to lead by example. Unfortunately, many forget to proactively apply this on a daily basis due to stress or an overwhelming amount of responsibilities. But, if you continuously demonstrate the behavior and attitude you want your team to represent, you can expect them to follow suit. This demonstrates a sense of leadership and bridges the inequality gaps between hierarchy positions. In the long run, it will have a giant influence on your team and the outcome of your other strategies.

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