No matter your role, being a part of a business is about more than just yourself and the bigger picture painted by the company’s goals. It’s about meeting those goals, bettering yourself, and making sure that your employees and customers remain happy. It’s a trickle effect. Happy employees make for happy customers – and this starts by knowing yourself and the members of your team, what motivates them, and how each individual can help achieve the business’s goals in their own ways.
As a team manager, you are responsible for your own actions as well as those of your team’s members. This includes holding them responsible for the consequences of their actions. The best way to do this is to lead by example and to be transparent. Get out there and interact with your team rather than staying in the office, stuck behind a desk. Be personable with them and show your emotions. Joke and laugh with them, smile at their excitement and offer comfort when needed.
Don’t try to micromanage what each individual member does. You need to be able to trust the team that you hired instead of feeling like you have to hover over their shoulders and critique everything that is done. This trust runs both ways, as well. You can use their skills and strengths to get certain tasks done, be it a solitary or group task depending upon those strengths. However, in order for your team to trust you, you have to trust them and show them that you are more than just their supervisor and boss – you’re a part of the team.
Make it a point to be readily accessible to your team and to be flexible with your time. You may have a list of tasks that have deadlines, and those deadlines might be swiftly approaching, but locking yourself in an office for that runway sprint to meet those deadlines is only going to isolate your team and make them feel like your tasks are more important than their potential problems. While this might very well be the case, making yourself easily accessible to your team lets them know that you are there to listen when they need to talk. It reiterates that they can come to you with their problems, questions, ideas, and concerns and that they won’t be shut out, feel rushed, or judged for it.
Getting to know your team members’ personalities and individual skill sets begins during the interview process and continues throughout each members’ career. This involves a lot of open communication and discovery questions. Knowing each individual’s wants, interests, and needs and being able to identify their skill sets will transform them from an employee to an asset. Encourage personal and group growth and be supportive when helping a team member overcome any weaknesses they have. Developing and strengthening the skill sets of each member and helping to overcome any weak points not only builds trust and opens communication, but it also helps with team morale.
One great way of getting to know your team and how they think and interact with the world around them is to utilise team building exercises. This can be done at any time and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a daily event. Create communication exercises that stimulate the brain and builds trust at the same time. You can even incorporate other skills into the exercises, including problem-solving or decision-making, conflict resolution, planning, and adaptability. Creating and implementing team exercises will also help you to identify how each member prioritises the aspects of the task given to them – and this, in turn, will help you to build a team that can prioritise any task given in a way that meets that goal in an effective and pleasant way for everyone involved.
One exercise is to give each team member a piece of paper and a writing tool. Ask for them to draw or make a list of what they think their strengths and weaknesses are and how they could help reach the goals that will be set for them. Or, you could make that same individual exercise into a group activity to encourage more communication among your team.
Another example is to have the entire team, yourself included, form a circle. Then, go around the room and state their names, where they’re from, and one or two of their hobbies. To make this exercise more interesting and fun, you can even add a catch to this and have each member of your team repeat what was said before them – starting from the very first member and what they said and going up the line – before stating theirs. If a mistake is made or if one of your team members forgets, you can start the exercise over. This is a great exercise to use when first creating a team or when expanding the team with additional members as it encourages a friendly atmosphere.
When you aim to achieve business goals, you need to look at what is unique about each member of your team and how they can do their parts to help achieve those goals. By knowing their skill sets, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, you can identify how they prioritise tasks. Will they analyse the tasks given to them and create organised, structured lists to mark through as they complete each task or will they start with the hardest task given and work their way down to the easiest ones? How about utilising the length of time each task would take to complete and start with the lengthiest one – or vice versa? When you know how each of your team members prioritises and works through the tasks that you give them, you can assign tasks in such a way that they get done in a timely and effective manner without putting undue stress on yourself and your team.
From your own development to hiring your team members and getting to know each individual wants, interests, and needs, and helping them feel like a team through exercises, you are building a team that has the collective skill set and ability to prioritise tasks that will help reach the goals set for them. And by encouraging teamwork and keeping an open line of communication, you are sending your team a clear message that you are there for more than just keeping them in line. You are there to motivate, encourage, and help them to develop their own careers. You are guiding them on their own individual paths of success while also meeting the goals set by yourself and the company.