How to Lead and Manage a Team

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In order to grow in an organization, an employee has to go through various stages in his career. A leadership position, though sought after, can be a tricky situation at times, if you don’t have exceptional people skills or experience in handling a team. However, with a few pointers in mind, you can learn the art of leading and managing a team effectively and responsibly.

A good leader has to be someone who sets an example; someone who is not aggressive, but assertive; someone who stands by his team in every situation. Below are some key factors that will help shape your leadership skills in the right direction:

Communicate effectively with your subordinates

Communication is the key when it comes to dealing with your subordinates. Make sure you explain the work to be executed in a clear, concise manner and leave no room for doubts. Set deadlines, and keep tabs on their progress. Also, make sure you give off an approachable vibe so the team can come to you freely to sort out any concerns they may have regarding the work assigned. Provide the requisite training if the work demands.

Communication also means explaining the Why before the How, so ensure your team understands why they have been given a certain assignment, and how their contribution will help the company grow. Keep your tone upbeat, so your optimism rubs off on the rest of the team as well. However, if you need to share bad news, you need to confide in your team members and take their opinions or feedback into consideration as well.

Manage your time

Time management is another factor that contributes greatly towards effective team organization. If you are able to manage your time effectively, you will set a good example for your subordinates. Make goals for yourself as well as your team and work towards achieving them together, as a whole. Know the difference between being efficient and effective, so prioritize your work accordingly. Procrastination should be avoided at all costs. Also, be accessible, but not necessarily available at all times. You should prioritize what tasks need you to be physically present, or what can be simply delegated, or sorted over the phone.

Know what motivates your team

Keeping your subordinates motivated and engaged is the most important task for a leader. However, factors such as cost cutting, turbulent hiring environment, recession, high rate of attrition can all bring down the morale of an employee. As a team leader, you need to ensure that your team remains positive and work doesn’t suffer. Make sure the subordinates aren’t underutilized or over utilized in any way. Engage them in decision making processes and incorporate their suggestions wherever possible. Know how to match the right job to the right person – a personality mismatch can be a great de-motivator. Share results with your team so they realize their contribution does make a difference.

Do Not hesitate to appreciate

Everyone likes a pat on the back for a job well done, and your subordinates are no different. Make sure you appreciate their abilities and commend their work often. An employee shouldn’t feel that they are easily replaceable – instead, they should feel like an asset to the company. Also, trust them with more responsibility, and ensure they realize that their efforts are being recognized, and that they are growing with the organization. However, do not play favourites – you need to recognize and appreciate individual capabilities. Incentives such as bonuses, promotions and performance ratings will help keep up their morale.

Giving Constructive Feedback

If an employee underperforms, or if a particular task needs improvement, you need to convey it to your subordinate in a gentle but effective manner. Start off on an appreciative note and then add your feedback with phrases such as ‘I want to discuss’, ‘I have some concerns with’ or ‘I’d like to discuss’. If it is an observation of an unwarranted attitude towards clients or fellow subordinates, you should address the issue with the concerned employee privately, and not in front of his peers. Be stern, and make sure you clearly explain the consequences of such actions. Also, give an opportunity to the subordinate to justify his actions or explain his attitude, so the conversation doesn’t come across as one-sided.

Delegating effectively

A good leader doesn’t just get work done, but works with his team too. However, delegation of work and responsibility is just as important. For this you need to assess the capabilities and interests of your team members, and assign work accordingly. Keep a timeline in mind and delegate work along with set deadlines. You also need to document all projects that you assign to your subordinates, and keep regular tabs on their progress. Work needs to be prioritized before being delegated, so make sure the most urgent tasks are executed first. Communication is key in delegation, whether it is done through face-to-face meetings, video conferences, or tele-conferences, to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Be Approachable

Managing a team isn’t just about being someone who your subordinates look up to. It is also about being a confidant, a person who the rest of the team can trust and come to with work-related issues. It is important to have an approachable persona, as it helps put the members of your team at ease. This means that if an employee faces an issue with a particular project or fellow employee or senior, he or she can come to you without inhibitions. You need to act as a sounding board for your employees, however, do not encourage keeping secrets. You need to earn the trust of your team members and try and offer practical solutions to their concerns.

Walk the Talk

A responsible leader will look for ways to incorporate changes within his team as well as his organization to increase efficiency. However, if you want your employees to work and behave in a certain manner, but have a different set of rules for yourself; it doesn’t send a good message to your team. This is why the most effective way to introduce change, is to start with yourself. You bring about the new norm, and your subordinates will follow suit, whether it is coming to work on time, or ensuring timely achievement of goals.

Be a Role Model

Be an inspiration to your team, so they look up to you in every aspect. Being a role model can be in terms of achieving your targets, not compromising on your values of integrity, as well as having a clear roadmap of your own and your team’s career paths. All these aspects contribute towards making a great leader.

Empathize with Subordinates

To be able to recognize emotions in others, to be able to put yourself in another’s shoes, is a trait found in the best leaders. Not everyone can read their subordinates’ state of mind and relate to their situation. For you to be able to see the other person’s viewpoint is extremely important, so you can offer a suitable solution to their concerns. Empathy helps building a strong trust between subordinates and their superiors, and hence make them more effective in their working.

About the author:
Swapnil Kamat is the Founder, CEO and Chief Trainer at Work Better

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