Five common mistakes made by team managers and how to avoid them
At long last, you have been promoted to lead a team. Veronica Broomes imparts some words of advice to make the most of your team - and yourself.
Mistake one: Poor communication
How to avoid mistake one:
- Arrange to meet very early in your appointment with all members of your team, as a group (and individually, depending on the size of the team) will enable managers to share the overall team goals, provide an update on the needs of the business and the contribution expected of the team and, very importantly, answer questions and provide clarification for all team members. It is an opportunity also to identify members of the team that may be resistant to any impending change and to begin understanding personalities and strengths among members of your team. However, be wary of "pigeonholing" members of your team into stereotypes as this could be divisive and harmful, both in the short and long term.
- Be clear in explaining how you see yourself working with your team and what you expect from each member of the team. In sharing your vision, let each person understand that you are seeking to build a team, not working with a group of individuals.
Mistake two: Being unprepared
High performing and high achieving managers in well-balanced teams are more likely to leave a trail that can be followed and developed into even more effective routes to success in realising business goals.
How to avoid mistake two:
- Become familiar with the objective or purpose of the department you will be managing. Speak with others who were part of the team previously - including previous managers and those who are part of the present team to find out what they consider to be the strengths of the team and what they think can be done to make the team more effective.
- Review whether or not you have the relevant skills to manage the team. A simple way of reviewing your skillset is to undertake your own self-assessment. This can be done using a SWOT analysis or GAP analysis. In this way you can assess if skills you developed in your current and previous roles will be enough to make you an effective team leader. This in turn will help you decide which skills you need to develop more urgently, especially those you can acquired through training and/or coaching. Register for relevant training courses or begin working with your own executive coach or mentor.
Mistake three: Setting unrealistic timescales
How to avoid mistake three:
- Do not set up members of your team for failure. If you do not understand the scope of the task you have given members of your team, by setting unrealistic time-frames you are setting your team up for failure.
- When there are urgent and important tasks to be completed, ensure you set out clearly what is required and provide the resources necessary to ensure timely completion. This may mean that you sub-divide a priority project into a number of tasks that can be completed by different members of the team working to very clear timelines. Your role will be to ensure you have updates at agreed timelines, identify unexpected problems and resolve those immediately.
Mistake four: Poor time management
How to avoid mistake four:
- Be prepared to delegate. Delegation should not be only for those tasks you do not enjoy, it should be for any task that can be done by others and will contribute to team success.
- Be prepared to say no to requests that you could not possibly complete in the required timeframe. In some instances, saying no can result in you negotiating a more realistic timeframe for completion of the task or additional resources being identified to enable completion for urgent requests. In so doing, you are able to demonstrate you are a capable and effective manager and understand how to manage resources to achieve overall business goals and team performance.
Mistake five: Displaying poor interpersonal skills
How to avoid mistake five:
- Be clear about the stage of development of the team you are about to lead. Is it forming, storming, norming performing or adjourning? This will ensure you prioritise how you support your team.
- Consider what you can do to improve your listening skills. For example, undertake training in effective communication skills or join a club dedicated to improving communication skills.