Five Tips for Small Team Management

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Small Teams|Five Tips for Small Team ManagementIt is tempting to think that more manpower equates to more productivity at work. After all, jobs tend to get done right away when many working pieces are involved, right? That is not always the case.

In fact, studies now show that a smaller number of members in a team is linked to more engagement and accountability. At work, small teams tend to be more productive because leads can focus their time and attention to fewer members.

However, spearheading a small team is still no easy feat. Just like any organization, small teams also have their fair share of challenges. And it is in everyone’s best interest to keep even a small boat floating.

Here are five strategies on how you can bring in the best out of a small yet effective team:

Use time tracking tools

You can use a free time clock software to set deadlines and objectives to manage project time more effectively. Time management tools can assist you to keep track of your team’s work and any project advancement.

It provides you monitoring tools that can be used to record the time that is spent on assignments and projects, such as timesheets and project trackers. You no longer have to wonder where time is wasted and which projects are receiving a disproportionate amount of attention. This time, you now have objective evidence.

Communicate with the team effectively

Having effective communication skills is one of the key ingredients of a team with good governance. When you communicate well with your teammates, you minimize misunderstandings and encourage the exchange of ideas that can propel your team to success.

For first-time managers, this might be easier said than done. To start with, you must create a welcoming atmosphere where your team knows that their feedback and opinions are all valued. Encourage them to open up. In that way, no one can feel as though they do not have a chance to express.

Staff meetings are a good way to build an open communication line in your team. During assemblies, convey the messages that you want to impart with confidence. Your audience will not only hear what you are saying, they will also see and feel your enthusiasm.

Having a proactive behavior in every discussion will help your teammates retain the discussion better. And with better retention, you possibly get more valuable inputs from them.

After you have established good communication in your team, the process of setting expectations and goals in your tasks will most likely go by smoothly.

Encourage teamwork and collaboration

Teamwork or collaboration has a dramatic effect on organizational performance.

Just like establishing good communication, teamwork is not something that just appears out of thin air. It is hard work and dedication that create a culture of teamwork in the workplace. When there is collaboration, the tasks at hand become more fun and uncomplicated.

Effective collaboration does not mean delegating an equal amount of work among the team. It is about knowing and sorting out tasks properly according to the skills, interest, and availability of the members.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about teamwork:

  • Be informed about the team’s common goal and objective.
  • Learn when to ask for help, especially when you are in need of an inspiration or support.
  • Let your team know about the progress you are making.
  • Encourage the team to question things from all angles.
  • Appreciate the efforts of the team and celebrate achievements together.

Set realistic deadlines

It is easy to postpone work when you think you have all the time in the world to finish it. Without a sense of urgency, you can always switch to things that are more enjoyable than the work you are avoiding to get done.
To stop the team from postponing and avoiding work, set a realistic deadline that is near to the present. If you firmly believe that a task can be done in a week, direct the team to get it done in a week’s time. This will keep the team stay driven throughout the process.

Before you set deadlines, it is necessary that the team knows what is expected from them. Explain the objectives and goals in mind clearly so that you are on the same page with everyone in the team. Make sure that the team agrees to the deadlines that you set so that they would have a sense of accountability in everything they do.

Evaluate your team regularly

Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to identify whether or not a team is successful. But how do you repeat those successes?

Giving room for feedback can help you measure the effectiveness of your style of leadership. It will also give you the privilege of knowing if this specific leadership is well accepted by everyone in your team.

For personal and career development, it is important to regularly know each of your member’s strengths and weaknesses. An age-old aphorism goes, “a team is only as strong as its weakest link.” The team can either be brought down by the actions of an individual or be brought up by a particularly strong contributor.

Take the time to determine if a person is raising up or bringing down a team. Once you have identified the individuals, see if you can coach the other members of the team to take some of the same attitudes and practices.
Lastly, establish a baseline and clarify your definition of success so you can better judge and provide feedback on how successful your team is. Conducting regular evaluations significantly determines how great a team will be moving forward.

Final thoughts

The fundamentals of succeeding in managing small teams lie in the knowledge that managing these teams is just as hard as managing mid-sized or even bigger teams. People often believe that managing a small team is easier, but that is hardly ever the case.

At the end of the day, the success of a team is only just a reflection of the combined efforts of each individual in a team.

Top 5 Skills that Differentiate a Stellar Leader from a Mediocre One – Do You Have Them?

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article | Leadership Skills | Top 5 Skills that Differentiate a Stellar Leader from a Mediocre One – Do You Have Them?There was a time when the great thinkers of this world thought that we all come into being with a specific set of skills. These skills defined our lives and decided who we were going to be even before we’d have a chance of thinking about it.

This led to the idea that some people are born leaders, some are born musicians, and some are born without any special skills (aka the regular ones). Luckily, we know better by now, and even if a natural inclination is important, it’s the skills we acquire that make us who we are.

This means that we have talented people who chose not to develop their natural abilities, and we have determined people who choose to compensate by learning and being consistent.

Now, when it comes to leadership, not everyone is a natural at it. However, if you truly want to be a stellar leader, you can do so by refining your behavior and actions through training, education, and experience.
Today we’ll list the top 5 skills any true leader must have in order to rise above the average and make a difference in their field.

Communication & Empathy

You must be able to inspire the people in your team and the only way to do this is by communicating in a way that lets people know you understand and support their positions. As a leader, you are in charge of guiding the team towards new levels of success but there’s no way to do this without showing empathy and being a good listener.

Verbal communication is crucial in both one-on-one and group meetings, as it creates a strong bond between participants.

Luckily, most of us can learn to get better at communicating their thoughts and making other people feel heard and understood. Nowadays, we have access to a wide array of online business communication courses designed specifically for leadership and management positions.

However, empathy may be a bit more difficult to grasp if you’re not a natural empath. It can be learned, but it requires you to see the world through the eyes of another person, which can be confusing to master.

Integrity & Accountability

If you want people to be honest and work from a moral high ground, you need to be the leading example.

C.S. Lewis once said that “integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” If you invest more in your image than you do in your team and your behavior, things will start to crumble pretty fast.

A good leader must implement a solid foundation and allow team members to grow on their own path. This usually means putting your employees first and being appreciative of their time and efforts. After all, their success is yours as well.

Furthermore, a stellar leader will always support its team and share in both the blame and the success. They will hold themselves accountable for their actions, thus creating a sense of responsibility among team members and gaining their respect.

Resilience

When we talk about great leaders, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Elon Musk, we only discuss their success stories. However, if we were to read their biographies, we’d learn that they had to overcome increasingly difficult conditions and situations.

Most people would have caved, given the same difficulties, but the stellar leaders of this world plowed through any wall that blocked their way. They had the vision and, even though there were many times of doubt, they never let their teams see this.

Wrap Up

While the skills mentioned above don’t talk about incredible talent or extreme intelligence, they can be difficult to master for most people. We’re not all great communicators and it can be difficult to maintain your integrity when things don’t go your way. Also, keeping yourself accountable and moving forward regardless of difficulties doesn’t sound like that much fun.

However, these are skills that toughen a person’s character, earn their peers’ respect and help create some of the most amazing leaders of our world (past, present, and future)!


About the Author

Oli is a working mum who has a passion for teaching and all things educational. With a background in marketing, Oli manages the digital channels and content at Courses.com.au.

2 Ways You Can Keep Your Employees on Your Side

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Managing Your Workforce|2 Ways You Can Keep Your Employees on Your SideYour employees are your business’s main asset. Without them, the work that you need to get done day in, day out won’t be complete, the money that you need to make in order to turn over a profit won’t get made, and your job will be made ten times harder as you seek to carry your company’s burden alone. Without your workforce, your business is nothing.

For this reason, keeping your employees on your side should be one of your top priorities. Lose your workforce’s trust and loyalty, and you’ll find it increasingly difficult to continue trading.

Here are two surefire ways to keep your employees on your side.

Stick by them when things get tough

Life is not all plain sailing. Everybody comes across hurdles and bumps in the road as they grow and progress further, especially when it comes to their profession.

Unfortunately, this means that even the most skilled and hard working of your employees will, at some point, face some sort of trouble in their career. If you want to keep them on your side, you need to stick by every one of your staff members when things do, in fact, get tough for them. Doing so will showcase just how dedicated you are to them and their ongoing progress in your business. Safe in the knowledge that you have their best interests at heart, your employees will instantly feel more appreciative of you and, thus, more inclined to work harder for you.

One way to stick by your employees is to get them legal assistance whenever they are need of it. Even if they have suffered an injury at work and they are claiming against your negligence, standing by your employees and making sure they get what they deserve will no doubt prove how dedicated you are to them. Bare them no ill-will, get them partnered up with a personal injury lawyer NYC, and make sure that they get is owed to them. If you play ball in this instance, you might even be lucky enough to settle the case out of court.

Be transparent at all times

Transparency is key when seeking to keep your employees on your side. How could you expect anything less? Why would anybody trust you if you’re not straight or truthful with them?

When it comes to establishing transparency in your business, you should:

  • Establish a set of core values
  • Never make selling an end goal
  • Keep your door metaphorically open at all times
  • Be an open book
  • Always seek to respond to your employees in a timely manner
  • Remain open to the opinions and suggestion of others at all times
  • Create a community feel in your workspace (and in your online space, too)

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, as comprehensively stated, you have no business. It is essential, then, that you keep them on your side at all times and at all costs. To do this, you should stick by them when things get tough, and you should always be transparent with them.

The Failures A Leader Should Never Tolerate

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|The Failures A Leader Should Never TolerateAs a leader, being understanding of mistakes and even merciful when possible is often the right strategy to take. Your team needs room to grow and if you come down too hard on all problems, you create a culture where people simply aren’t willing to bring your attention to those problems, so they fester.

However, you also have to show courageous leadership and even be confrontational when it comes to the serious issues. Otherwise, you have no authority and you create an environment where everything is permissible. With that in mind, here are some failures that you cannot tolerate as a leader, and how you should combat them.

Preferential treatment

This is a problem that you’re going to see in almost every workplace. Exceptional team leadership means being able to delegate, to discipline, and to praise evenly across the board, regardless of personal chemistry or whether you and a colleague don’t see eye-to-eye. However, your discipline isn’t always the problem. The other managers and team leaders can fall prey to the temptations of preferential leadership. You have to be able to spot the signs of it and to ensure that the leaders beneath you know that is simply is not permitted. Otherwise, you may have to find other leaders who won’t fall into the same trap.

Passing the buck

As mentioned, a culture where your team feels free to communicate and report misconduct in the workplace is important. You have to create that culture of accountability yourself. The best way to do that is to hold yourself responsible when possible. If your team fails to meet a business goal, rather than blaming them, apologize for your role in making that failure happen. Be forgiving with small mistakes, as mentioned, so your team is more willing to take accountability. There will be those who try to pass the buck onto others, and you may have to make an example by reprimanding them for doing that rather than simply taking the blame, themselves.

Theft

Employee theft comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes, and it’s not always targeting you directly. However, whether it’s a stapler, a filing cabinet, or cash, you cannot tolerate an employee who rips you off, rips a client off, rips a supplier off, or rips one of their colleagues off. Implement different approaches to prevent theft as best as you can but be willing to address the problem and nip it in the bud as soon as it happens. People who are willing to steal from those they work with cannot be trusted in any capacity and should be let go. It doesn’t matter if they’re working in the mail room or if they’re with you for the daily briefing in the executive team every day.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|The Failures A Leader Should Never TolerateDrug use

Alcohol and drug abuse are a sad fact of modern life. It’s a disease that’s spreading through society, affecting countless individuals, families and, yes, even workplaces. Effective, empathetic leaders will provide pathways or help in finding treatment for substance abuse, but that doesn’t mean that they will tolerate it in their workplace. Addiction is a dangerous condition, one that can endanger the safety of the others in the workplace. Finding the right method to test for it and removing the affected individual, if found, from the workplace is the first priority. How you choose to help them or not comes after that. However, it is important to show empathy to the stresses and troubles of your team where and when that’s possible.

Digital misconduct

Nowadays, a business is often most vulnerable in its digital spaces. Most businesses that suffer a major data breach do not survive past two years. For that reason, you have to make it as clear as possible to your team that digital security protocols simply must be followed. Those who neglect their duties or who willingly allow unauthorized access to sensitive data cannot be tolerated. Working with an IT security provider can help you close the vulnerabilities that they open and, furthermore, can help you realize when employees have been tricked or negligent or when they have intentionally contributed to the vulnerability that comes with a data breach.

Harassment

Workplace bullying, discrimination, or harassment of any kind is a noxious weed that takes root deeply and spreads fast if allowed. It creates a culture of intimidation, fear, and coercion that can irreversibly impact the sense of trust and team identity that you work hard to build. As such, you must act to stamp it out as hard as possible, with no reprieve for the culprits no matter their position or personal/working relationship with you. The best way to combat harassment is as a team. Provide safe, anonymous ways of start HR reports, provide tips on how to identify and report it, make sure that it’s clear you have a zero-tolerance approach to harassment. If you fail your duties to provide an environment where harassment is treated seriously, your business is liable for the damage suffered.

Safety snafus

Every workplace has its safety issues. Even in an easy-going, secure office, slips, trips and falls and fire hazards still exist. It’s important to make sure your team is aware of the workplace safety policies and practices that you have in place. It’s just as important to make sure that they never cut corners when it comes to worksafe practices. If they undertake any actions that endanger themselves or others in the workplace, they need to be trained in safe practices from the beginning. In the case of a breach that could cause serious harm, you may want to consider further punishment. The consequences of allowing someone to be seriously injured on your watch are too great to simply let it slide.

As a leader, there are going to be situations that test your resolve and demand hard decisions. It’s important that you be aware of the risks and have strategies in place to deal with them so that you’re able to effectively show that authority when you need to.

7 Skills Required For Exceptional Team Teadership

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership Skills|7 Skills Required for Exceptional Team LeadershipThere are many types of managers but it takes a certain skill set for a manager to consistently lead their team to long-term success. While skills can definitely be taught (growth mindset), exceptional team leadership requires abilities and characteristics that do not come naturally to everyone.

Why are leadership skills so important? Quite simply, they set the mold for ‘the way we do things around here’, which has a huge impact on the culture and success of an organisation.

Think you have what it takes? Want to know what distinguishes great team leaders from mediocre ones? Here are 7 skills all exceptional team leaders naturally possess.

Effective communication

To be an effective team leader, communication is key. Good communication is an essential component of achieving goals and contributes hugely to positive working relationships. Conflict at some point in any team is inevitable, but an exceptional leader has the expertise to ensure everybody has a voice and feels heard. They are able to quickly diffuse any conflict.

Good communication skills involve really listening, keeping it short, asking questions, noticing body language and repeating back a summary of what has been discussed. Active listening is often seen as a soft skill, but it is fundamental to being a great leader and drives employee engagement.

Communication is becoming increasingly difficult when it comes to managing remote workers in the digital age. But great leaders always make time for small talk with everyone and use video technology to communicate with the remote members of their team.

Transparent and trustworthy

Good leadership is built on a foundation of trust, which requires a certain level of transparency. Being transparent doesn’t mean sharing everything on the google drive or divulging everyone’s salary (though some businesses operate with more openness than others).
Broadly speaking, good leaders will share information and not keep facts secret to build up their own sense of power. There are many good reasons team leaders should practise transparency, but most importantly it helps to foster better relationships with staff. Along with effective communication it encourages employees to share their ideas too and this is essential for innovation.
Ultimately, the sharing of information is essential for employees to make better informed decisions.

Knowledgeable and confident

To be a credible leader you have to be able to support your team and problem-solve. Knowledge and confidence are just two of the attributes required to foster respect from your employees. People like to work with leaders who are confident and know what they are talking about.

Effective delegating

Great leaders know they need to delegate in order to get work done, but also understand the importance of delegation in relation to improving opportunities and staff development. Delegating isn’t about dumping the work you don’t fancy doing onto someone else.
To be an effective leader you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to roll up your sleeves and pitch in with the workload. You also need to be mindful not to hold onto your work. Motivating and inspiring team members relies on effective delegation and this means delegating authority, as well as tasks.

Exceptional team leaders aren’t afraid of succession planning and will delegate responsibilities to help build the careers of their team members. Great managers surround themselves with highly successful people.

Energise employees to achieve

One of the key skills and competencies requested by those recruiting for team leaders is the ability to motivate themselves and members of their team. Employees can have all the expertise in the world, but if they’re not motivated, then productivity and business success won’t come easily and employees won’t achieve their potential.

Every team member will have different motivators. A great team leader knows this and works with individuals to understand what these are and successfully motivate them.

Give continuous feedback

Giving and receiving feedback on a continuous basis is key to engaging people and keeping them on track. The annual appraisal is an outdated management tool and by its nature is often an event dreaded by employees who feel a whole year of ‘constructive criticism’ is about to be dumped upon them.

Great leaders give feedback on a continuous basis to address issues and guide employees, as well as to give positive feedback which helps to boost confidence and ability. Good leaders are able to deliver difficult feedback constructively and effectively with the right intention (to help employees improve what they aren’t doing so well). For employees to be receptive to feedback it needs to be delivered frequently with care.

Fair, ethical and honest

Being honest, fair and ethical are crucial character traits of an exceptional team leader. Acting with integrity and not engaging in behaviour in the workplace that is toxic will impact positively on how you are regarded by employees in your team and across the entire organisation.

Being fair, you don’t have favourites and you abide by the same rules you impose upon your team. Importantly, exceptional leaders will always question whether they have personal bias to ensure that they don’t subconsciously develop any.
While these are all management skills that can be learned, the truly best leaders will find all of this comes naturally.