The skills of a team leader don’t evolve by themselves – they need work. And the first-time team leader has a point to prove about getting the most out of their team and delivering for clients.
We’ve got some tips to make that first management process less daunting.
Tips & advice:
Do your research … Start the management process by building up a picture of the client. Establish who the key players are and what they want. Then get familiar with the plans, objectives and status of the project so you can focus on how you’ll reach the goal.
Listen and learn … Your team will have experience of other projects and, perhaps, understand the client’s situation in ways you don’t. Don’t pretend you know everything – ask those niggling follow-up questions. Leave egos behind – the best idea wins, no matter who has it. This helps demonstrate you’re engaged in what the team tells you.
Get cultured … Getting to know your team and how they work together lies at the heart of being a great team leader. Understanding their culture – the jokes and the tensions – this will help you manage each individual and any challenges or resistance you might meet.
Delicate delegation … Delegate wisely. Find the person with the most appropriate skills or the potential to grow them and hand it over. That encourages professional development and builds trust. Every task should be actionable, with demonstrable results. Remember to give feedback.
Know your status … You can’t manage without knowing your team’s situation. Monitor the workload and check for backlogs or choke points.
Be a problem solver … As a first-time team leader, don’t panic when you hit a stumbling block: think your way past it. Your team can help – they may have been in similar situations.
Learn from mistakes … No one gets everything right. Just don’t repeat errors. Use each failure as a building block for future success, informing your decisions and management processes.
Feedback to the client … Keep the client and line managers updated about progress. No one likes to know about an overrun at the last moment – manage expectations.
Celebrate success … A job done well deserves congratulations. But remember what you’ve learned about your team. Some teams love a stand-up presentation and cheers, others appreciate a quiet word in their ear. Knowing what works where is one of the key skills a team leader requires.