Good Management: Leading Your Team

Whether you’re established and experienced or a total newbie, managing a team has never been easy.

You may have one team member who responds really well to constructive criticism, while another needs gentler forms of feedback. You have one employee who prefers to communicate via email, while another prefers face-to-face chats more productive. One of your direct reports is always proactively contributing to the conversation, while another hangs back and does more listening than speaking.

Yes, your team may be composed of a huge variety of personalities, preferences, and communication styles, but, you’re only one person in charge of them all.

To successfully oversee such an array of employees, you can easily be spread too thin.

1. Develop Emotional Care

Emotional intelligence—put simply, your ability to recognize your own and other people’s emotions—is an important skill in your professional life, and never more so than when you’re charged with managing a team.

Think about it this way: Your employees might not always be forthcoming with their questions, concerns, and problems. Not everybody is a straightforward communicator, and needing to approach a boss can be intimidating—which leads many people to just keep things to themselves.

As a startup owner or small business owner, you’ll be a stronger leader (and great example for your team members!) if you’re able to read between the lines and pick up on subtle cues like body language, behaviour —rather than waiting for everything to be explicitly stated.

2. Understand Your Employees

On a similar note, it’s important that you work to understand your team members on a deeper level. Every single one of them has different skills, weaknesses, and things that motivate them. Knowing what those are and leveraging them will help you manage in a way that suits your direct reports best.

One of the best ways to do this is through the utilisation of a formal strengths finder assessment as part of your employee onboarding process.

The assessment gives you the chance to understand the strengths of your employees, as well as how to coach them better. If they’re having trouble with a role, knowing who they are and what’s important to them will help you lead them better.

You also need to understand what’s going to put them in an uncomfortable situation- For example, you shouldn’t make your introverted employee present something in front of the team without adequate notice.

3. Make Your Check-ins Holistic

You know that frequent one-on-one check-ins are an effective strategy for staying in the loop and keeping your direct reports engaged. They provide an opportunity to talk about current workloads, career goals, and any other professional-related matters that you should be in the loop on.

But, have you ever considered adding a personal element to these regular sit-downs? Our professional and personal lives are more integrated and entwined than ever, and knowing a little bit about your employees’ lives outside of the office can have a pretty major impact on how you manage and communicate with them during working hours.

“I manage a team of 11 people, and it’s really important for me to understand what’s going on with them,” Harris shares, “So, I always make sure to ask if there are any outside things that they want to make me aware of.”

Not only does that allow you to be more sensitive (or accommodating, when necessary) to your employees, but it will also give you some added context to why your team members might be behaving a certain way.

4. Be an Advocate

You’re responsible for successfully managing your team. But, you should also serve as their source of empowerment and encouragement. As their direct leader, it’s important that you recognize and reward their valuable contributions.

This is particularly important for your employees who are more reserved and might spend team meetings analyzing what’s being said—rather than continuously speaking up.

So when a more introverted employee comes to you following a meeting with an idea or suggestion, it’s important that you promote that as their contribution. It’s a way to give credit where credit is due, while also reminding the rest of your team that—just because someone isn’t vocal in a meeting—doesn’t mean that he or she is slacking.

Your team is chock full of different personalities and working styles, and figuring out how to effectively manage all of them can be challenging, but not impossible.

Ultimately, the key is to take the time to understand your employees. With that foundation in place, you’ll have a much easier time leading your different team members in a way that resonates best with them and their individual preferences.

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