In one fast-paced restaurant, a shift lead could never figure out why he was not promoted to a management position. He had just finished a bachelor’s degree in business management, so he felt like he was ready for the next step. The problem wasn’t with his knowledge, but with his soft skills.
This particular manager had a terrible dislike for doing certain tasks around the restaurant. He refused to take out the trash, wash dishes, or do any other dirty work. Even when he had to train new team members, he would only tell them how to do a task because taking out the trash was too beneath him to do it himself.
His attitude was contagious and made his shifts horrible for other employees. He was a great manager otherwise, but he struggled to lead by example. No one wanted to work with him, and none of the employees were willing to put in their best efforts because he was unwilling to do even the most basic aspects of the job.
Unfortunately, this type of scenario is far too common. People might read books about team management tips and study business in college, but that doesn’t automatically make them an excellent manager. It takes time, effort, and an open mind to become a talented leader.
Being a good manager isn’t an innate talent someone is born with. People have to learn how to be good leaders. It is a lifelong process, but top leaders can get a head start by learning as much as possible about management.
1. Don’t Assume Team Problems Will Go Away
Very few problems will disappear just because someone ignores them. In most cases, small issues only spiral out of control if the manager ignores them. When there is an issue with the team, the first step is noticing they exist and addressing them.
There will always be small disagreements along the way because it is impossible for everyone to have the exact same viewpoints and opinions forever. But the goal isn’t to ignore disagreements or issues, it is to resolve them constructively. By resolving these problems quickly and effectively, managers ensure the team continues to work efficiently over the long run.
2. Stay on Top of Deadlines
When one person works on a project, they can easily remember each deadline and stay on track. As the team grows, there are too many people involved for a simple breakdown of deadlines and responsibilities. While there are many different ways to address this problem, smart managers use tools like Toggl Plan to get everyone on the same page.
Instead of telling everyone their task for the day every morning, managers can use software tools to divide tasks for the day, week, or entire duration of the project. They can then track everyone’s completion rates through the same platform. This is a lot easier for managers than checking up on employees in person, and it is also easier for employees.
Most importantly, this technique ensures everyone knows their individual assignments and timelines, preventing the need for the team manager to frequently remind them. Everyone can get their responsibilities taken care of without feeling hassled or pushed.
3. Learn to Delegate
One of the best team management tips is to remember to delegate tasks. No one can do everything on their own. The best managers know how to share tasks among team members so everyone can work together to reach the overarching goal for the team.
When assigning tasks, experienced managers delegate so some team members are learning new skills, others are practicing skills they already know, and some are handling tasks they are extremely familiar with. This type of delegation helps to increase the overall skill set of the group while ensuring only a few team members are learning a task at any given moment. By teaching skills, it makes the manager’s job much easier in the long run.
4. Celebrate Wins
Many goal-oriented managers like to get things done as quickly and effectively as possible, then get right to the next step. While this is generally a good idea, don’t forget to celebrate successes in between. Team members work hard to accomplish team goals, so they should be recognized for their efforts.
While a manager cannot always hand out raises or bonuses for excellent work, they can easily compliment their team members. Showing gratitude and appreciation is an easy way to encourage people to continue doing their best. Plus, celebrating wins and showing gratitude helps to create a positive work environment.
Recognition can be as simple as taking a moment during the next meeting to publicly recognize an employee who did well. When the entire team accomplishes a major goal, a team party or a potluck lunch might be a special way to celebrate everyone’s efforts.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Pitch in
This team management tip goes well with learning to delegate. While it is important the manager does not end up doing everything on his or her own, a manager also needs to know when to step up and help out.
In the example mentioned at the beginning of this article, the shift lead was held back from an otherwise deserved promotion because he could not lead by example. He was unwilling to pitch in and be a part of the team like everyone else. The best leaders in work and in life know how to lead by example.
This is especially true when everyone on the team is rushing to meet a major deadline. If the project seems like it is starting to fall behind schedule, managers should be working just as hard as everyone else on the team to finish the work. Otherwise, the group may begin to feel resentment and anger toward the team leader.
6. Give People a “Why”
Children can be told what to do, but adults always want to know why. Managers can start by explaining what has to be done and how to do it, but they also need to explain why it is important. When people know why they need to do something, they are more likely to do it.
The manager’s explanation ensures everyone understands what needs to be done. It helps team members prioritize the project’s different goals. In addition, explaining the importance of different tasks helps to motivate team members to get things done.
7. Treat People as Individuals
From the very first moment the team is created, managers should take time getting to know everyone on the team. Form a strong bond with team members and understand who they are. Pay special attention to each person’s strengths and weaknesses.
By forming a relationship with team members, managers can encourage open communication. If there is a problem, team members will feel more comfortable talking to a manager they have a relationship with. In addition, genuinely caring for team members helps to build mutual respect.
On a practical level, understanding team members will help with assigning tasks. Each team member is talented in some areas and weak in others. Knowing this information helps managers figure out the best way to assign tasks and prepare the team for success.
8. Give Feedback
Some managers are so worried about keeping everyone happy and creating a positive environment they are afraid to offer any criticism. While there is a balance between negative critiques and useful feedback, managers do need to offer some kind of feedback to their employees.
Most people take pride in their work and genuinely want to do well. It is impossible for someone to improve if they don’t know what they are doing wrong. Ultimately, it is up to the manager to provide motivation, praise, and constructive criticism to each employee.
At performance reviews and throughout the project, managers can help team members improve by giving them honest feedback. When someone does a good job, they should be praised for it. In addition, managers should encourage team members to offer feedback in return about their leadership.
9. Set Achievable Goals
When it comes down to it, any goal is attainable as long as it is broken down into smaller parts. To motivate team members, managers have to set clear, reachable goals. These goals need to be divided into smaller tasks that can be done on a daily basis.
If a goal is too large or daunting to do, team members can become disheartened and give up. Smart managers use smaller goals for each individual to break down impossible dreams into doable steps.
Other than doing daily goals, team leaders should also create an overarching team mission. Team members need to understand where they are going and why to put their entire efforts into their work. Another good idea is to get team members involved in the process of making daily goals and major team missions.
10. Let All Voices Be Heard
Some people have amazing ideas but are too shy to speak up. As a team leader, managers should ask all team members for their opinion and encourage everyone to take part in the conversation. While someone might dislike public speaking, they may still have useful, creative input that could help the team improve.
Team managers have to walk a fine line between steering the conversation and preventing it from going off on a rabbit trail. Let everyone contribute to group discussions and brainstorming sessions. If team members get distracted by tangents, try to keep the conversation focused on the team’s mission.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like most things in life, the best team management tips all involve practice. Team managers are human beings and will make mistakes along the way. It takes time, patience, and effort to become a talented manager.
As individuals work to improve their team management skills, different techniques and online tools can help. From managing workflow to assigning individual tasks, managers can learn how to successfully manage their team.
Want to learn more about becoming a better manager? Check out the Toggl Plan blog for frequent posts and articles about leadership, productivity, and useful online software.
Logan Derrick is a full-time business writer and content marketing strategist. For years, he has worked closely with several project management professionals, learning from them and increasing his own knowledge of the industry. Having held multiple management positions in fields ranging from customer service to marketing, Logan has found a passion for helping others learn about project management, marketing, and the powerful tools available to professionals today.