A Guide to Effective Team Management and Communication

managing-team-members-in-office

No matter what company you’re working for, one of the most important things to master is effective team management. After all, teams that work on various projects are the heart of every business — without them, everything else stops too. 

Yet, at the same time, bringing together people with their different personalities, work ethics, and values can be extremely difficult. You have to be committed and patient to succeed, and many managers don’t even know where to begin. That’s why we’ve put together this short guide that will cover everything you need to know about teams and management.

What Is a High-Performance Team?

As the name implies, a high-performance team operates at a quick pace, producing fantastic results and striving towards a common goal. In a high-performance team, each member is a skilled individual who takes on a specific role, though the roles aren’t entirely fixed. When necessary, team members can interchange their positions, and the group won’t suffer for it.

High-performance teams also don’t have just one leader — different members can take on this position when needed. Not only that, but the leader’s word isn’t law that everyone else must abide by. There’s a sense of mutual trust and democracy, so other team members can freely voice their thoughts and opinions at any moment.

Naturally, a team of this kind can overcome most challenges thrown its way, making it particularly effective. In a way, it’s supposed to be a unit that encompasses various skill sets, abilities, and personalities but still works as a single mind.

A high-performance team may sound like something that exists only in an ideal world. But with effective communication and proper management, most teams can achieve this level. That doesn’t come without its challenges, though, which you should certainly be aware of.

“A perfect team should work as a single unit with one mind. But in reality, you often need to balance opposite personalities, work styles, and preferences.”

Why Is Managing a Team So Challenging?

As you’ve seen, a perfect team should work as a single unit with one mind. But in reality, each team is composed of different people, many of whom have completely opposite personalities, work styles, and preferences. A manager’s duty is to overcome all these differences and find a way to use them to their full potential to reach a certain goal. And unsurprisingly, that’s not an easy task.

At the same time, the manager can’t focus only on the team and its wishes, conflicts, and needs. There are other things to juggle as well — for instance, task delegation, scheduling, and setting deadlines. Managers also have to be intermediaries between high-ups and team members, as well as track employee activity, boost morale, and come up with solutions to pressing issues. In other words, it’s a job that requires focus, commitment, and excellent communication and organizational skills.

You can look up Lensa’s insights on transferable skills to understand how employees, specially managers need to have a varied skill set and how important it is for them to apply the same and manage their work and teams efficiently.

Which Tools Do You Use to Manage Your Team?

Thankfully, you don’t have to rely only on your notes and to-do lists when trying to organize something nowadays. There are plenty of digital tools that can improve project management and communication with your team. They can also track your team’s progress and show you which areas need improvement.

So, which tools would be the best to use when managing your team? Here at DYL, we offer a wide range of programs that will make the organizational aspect of your job a breeze. Our software can be used to help you streamline workflow, set up appointments in the calendar, and assign and manage tasks. What’s more, you can easily oversee all the activities going on and thus stay on top of things at all times.

We also offer virtual offices and business call and texting services that are available both on your mobile and desktop. These programs enable effective communication with all team members and allow everyone to use team chat. And since everything’s virtual, you’ll easily keep your remote workers up to speed, too — no need to call them separately to inform them about the latest developments.

What Importance Do KPIs Play in Team Management?

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a metric that measures whether an organization is successfully achieving its goals. You can also use it to assess how well your team is performing by collecting data on a weekly or monthly basis and comparing it to the objectives you expected to reach.

There are various KPIs that measure different things, but it’s always best not to go overboard when using them. In fact, simply making sure that the ones you use are SMART should be enough, even if you don’t have that many. That means your KPIs should be:

  • Specific — each KPI should measure performance in only one area
  • Measurable — there should be a concrete and defined way to measure them
  • Achievable — don’t set up goals you know you can’t be achieved
  • Relevant — measure something that is actually likely to improve performance
  • Time-bound — you should set a specific timeframe for measuring KPIs.

Good use of KPIs should give you an insight into whether your team is performing well and what areas could use improvement. That is, of course, immensely helpful when you’re trying to manage your team, so don’t disregard their importance.

Team members collaborating and celebrating big win

How to Manage Your Team

Using various tools to track and organize your team will surely make your life easier, but there’s more to managing than that. A lot of it comes down to your communication skills and interaction with employees. And since that’s potentially the most difficult part of your job, we’re here to give you a few tips.

1. Introduce an Open-Door Policy

The key to effective team management is building trust and making everyone feel as if their voice matters. In other words, you shouldn’t be dictating all the rules, nor should team leaders be the only ones you listen to. Encourage all team members to share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. That way, you’ll be quicker to come up with creative solutions, and you’ll be able to spot conflicts immediately and nip them in the bud.

In the office, you could translate this open-door policy into a physical space. Remove obstacles between employees and allow them to interact and share ideas. They’ll likely grow closer thanks to that, and tight-knit teams always work more efficiently!

2. Give Clear and Detailed Feedback

No matter what kind of a project you’re working on, feedback is crucial for its success, as well as your employees’ growth. However, not all feedback is equally useful. If you check a team member’s work and only tell them to fix it, that won’t help them. They won’t know what the exact issue is and what you’re asking them to do.

The rule of giving feedback is simple — make sure it’s detailed and clear. Point out precisely what could be improved and what results you expect. Then, your employees won’t feel like they’re supposed to read your mind and are far more likely to succeed.

But there’s another point to keep in mind. When giving feedback, you shouldn’t focus solely on criticism. That’s a fairly common mistake — many managers think it’s unnecessary to mention the things that were done well. But your employees are human, and their morale might drop if you only point out the areas where they could improve. 

So give them some recognition for successful work too. According to research, around 67% of employees whose managers focused on their strengths felt engaged with their work. On the other hand, when a manager focuses solely on weaknesses, only 31% of employees feel engaged. In other words, be positive, and you’ll get better results!

3. Make Sure Everyone Knows What Tasks They’re Responsible For

When working on a big project with a large team, you’ll naturally delegate tasks to various team members, thus speeding up the whole process. That may seem simple enough, but it can, in fact, lead to quite a bit of confusion. If you don’t communicate clearly enough and don’t check whether everyone’s on the same page, you might discover that several employees are working on the same task when they’re not supposed to.

So, it’s essential to be clear about what you expect from each member and regularly check in with everyone to see their progress. That way, you’ll spot problems early on and deal with them before any damage is done. 

Also, you could use to-do lists and software with similar features to keep track of who is doing what. Allow access to your employees, too — then they’ll always know what’s their responsibility without even having to ask. On top of that, you can add upcoming tasks to let them know what they can expect after they’re done with the current ones.

4. Try Out Team Building Activities

There’s a reason team building is so popular — it actually works. It gives team members who mostly interact in a professional setting an opportunity to relax and get to know each other better. Knowing each other will also help them build tighter bonds and develop trust. And that’s crucial for smooth teamwork.

When choosing a team-building activity, pick something most people will like. That means you shouldn’t go for something too niche — even a simple evening of board games will suffice. Escape rooms might be a good idea too. After all, they encourage players to work together to solve a puzzle, similar to what you want in your workplace!

Final Thoughts

When it comes to your team, you’ll likely experience ups and downs, times when everything goes smoothly and times of conflict. What matters is that you stay determined and use the management skills you have to overcome any obstacles thrown your way. After all, that’s what effective team management is all about — continuous work towards bettering yourself and your team.

By Alex Vetter

Project Manager at DYL