Does your team know what’s expected of them?
Having an efficient team can only be done by providing a strong framework. With good planning, rule setting and expectation management, employees will know what their position entails. If this critical team building step is missing, results are sure to be delayed and of lower quality.
But what makes this step such an important part of team building? Well, a team is comprised of several individuals, each with their own hidden expectations and approaches to problems and tasks. If team members are unclear on what their role is within the structure of the team, and what is expected of them, they will find it harder to tackle their job obligations.
For example, without proper guidance and communication, a detail-oriented team member might get frustrated when all of the team meetings focus on the bigger picture, instead of the steps needed to get there. This is where strong leadership and management skills come in handy.
Setting expectations, communicating clearly, and setting proper rules can help diminish or even eliminate future disagreements, conflicts, misunderstanding and general inefficiency.
So how can you as a manager master this crucial team-building step? Here are six things to keep in mind:
1. Have a Clear Plan
First of all, you want to have a clear plan. You have to know what’s expected of you by your own bosses, customers or even your vision for the team or department. Once you’ve established clear goals and methodologies to achieve those goals, you can expect others to have a much clearer understanding of what needs doing.
A plan also helps provide direction, structure and boundaries. You can define appropriate behavior, what constitutes efficiency and productivity, and what measures are to be taken in case of conflict and misunderstandings. Will you have a mediator solve a disagreement, or would you like the team leader to decide? These clear guidelines will help keep things moving when they would otherwise slow down.
2. Communicate Roles and Expectations
You will need to be clear with your team in regards to your expectations and each team member’s role. Does an employee’s job description match his or her abilities and skills, or do they need to go above and beyond the call of duty? This is important to define upfront, so you can match the right people with the right positions. If you have employees that are interested in career advancements, you want to give them the opportunity to learn more skills on the job.
3. Ask and Be Open to Questions
Let your team members know that you are open to questions at the onset of the project, but also further down the line. You want to make sure that you communicate your vision as clearly as possible, and you want your employees to ask clarifying questions where they might have misunderstandings. Likewise you can ask your employees questions and get some valuable feedback. “Are there any hang-ups?” “Do you have any suggestions to make this run more smoothly?” These are questions that will help you update and improve your approach to project management.
4. Avoid Micromanaging Further Down the Line
Micromanagement can be a productivity killer. Your main priority is to explain very clearly what and when you want something done, but not how you want it done. You should leave the “how” to your team members. It’s their job to figure that one out. However, there are exceptions when you might want to get involved in the “how” of things. For example, you might have a new team member that needs a more hands-on explanation of how to get a new task done, or a team member asks you a specific question about a certain process. You also want to get involved if the outcome relies on a specific approach to the activity.
5. Get Involved When a Team Member Asks for Assistance
As a team manager you have a lot of resources that can be invaluable to the team. Whenever one of your employees finds an obstacle that they don’t know how to tackle and he or she comes to you for assistance, you can use your experience, connections, knowledge or resources to help them out. By moving your weight around when it comes down to it, you can ensure that real progress is made in a situation that would’ve otherwise stagnated.
6. Guide the Outcome
Although a hands-off approach is best when it comes to the day-to-day grind, you want to have periodic meetings where you make sure that everything’s on track and that you’re moving towards the right goal. Having a tight plan is great, but plans always have a way of unraveling as the project starts moving forward. Having these periodic meetings can allow you to revise action steps and procedures, redefine roles and specific structures, motivate team members and soak-in new information regarding the progress of the project.
You have several tools at your disposal when it comes to these periodic meetings:
Milestones can be set from the get-go as points where you and your team can debrief. They can be done with individual team members, or groups, and they can be based on progress points or specific dates.
Having regular one-on-one meetings with key team members can help keep you in the loop and allow you to make the right decisions when the time comes.
Team meetings are an option if you have a highly collaborative team that can benefit from regular progress updates. With team meetings you can keep everyone informed and through the exchange of information, innovative ideas can be heard and implemented, ideas that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
By having clear expectations and a team that’s informed about their roles, structures and methodologies, a team manager can increase productivity and ameliorate or outright eliminate any problems that might be coming down the line.
How do you keep your team on the same page?