As a team leader, you have a real impact on how effectively your team communicates, performs tasks and, ultimately, how well they connect as a team to get the job done. At their best, work teams can provide a forum for creativity and collaboration as people with diverse backgrounds are brought together to solve a problem – as long as the team leader can provide an atmosphere of cooperation, invite participation and provide realistic expectations along the way.
Management, in a team setting, can either spark or quell participation. To allow everyone on the team to participate, Dun and Bradstreet, a company offering business solutions, recommends giving everyone on the team a specific task. Yet, assigning tasks is just part of the equation. To get full buy-in, management should take the time to explain why each task is important, no matter how small, and fits into the whole team project. A style that provides everyone with respect and a sense of pride in their work will help keep all team members engaged. Engaging only a select few, on the other hand, creates a division in the group and doesn’t foster a sense of teamwork, keeping those not in the “inner circle” disengaged and the team as a whole less likely to reach its full potential.
According to the College of Executive Coaching, having a management style that enables trust is crucial when developing an effective team. Management can gain trust through acts that benefit the entire team, but that trust can be lost very quickly. Management can gain trust by setting high goals, encouraging people to take risks to reach those goals and not punishing them if they fall short. As a leader, keeping your promise can gain trust, just as breaking a promise can lose that same trust. Trust matters in teamwork so workers can concentrate on their own tasks, trusting that their teammates will get their end done, and management will have their backs. Without trust, morale suffers and so does the level of productivity.
Management can build up or break down the level of communication in a team environment. Communication matters in team projects, and leaders can make a great impact, not only by providing skills and training in how best to communicate but by determining what guidelines their team will take in communicating. Without proper communication channels and guidelines, break downs can occur, resulting in misinformation, missing information or even conflicting information. Conflict is natural in a team setting, and management can either be the sounding board, providing positive feedback for both sides of the disagreement, or a lightning rod, allowing for negative communication to carry throughout the group. When communication lines are open and consistent, with a manager who is a good communicator leading the way, teamwork improves.
Without accountability in a team setting, your team can miss deadlines, fail to deliver on tasks and promises and generally fail without fear of reprisal. According to the College of Executive Coaching, everyone on the team needs to be accountable through management-defined roles and rules. An uneven management style, where one person or group is above the rules, can only provide conflict among team members but also can cause uneven results in the team. Everyone needs to be accountable, and everyone also needs to understand their goal and how success is defined and achieved.