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5 Tips To Effectively Manage A Team

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Dec. 11 2017, Published 4:35 a.m. ET

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As more and more women reach the top in the workplace, the need to effectively manage others is becoming increasingly important.  This article is going to look at 5 ways to help you effectively manage your team, whether that’s as a manager within a corporation or as a small business owner.

1. KEEP LEARNING

The first thing you should note is that you don’t need a Masters in HR Management in order to effectively manage people, however, it’s always good to invest in your education whether that’s delivered via an academic course leading to a recognized qualification at a university, vocational training, weekend workshops, or receiving mentorship from someone that can give you a helping hand.  The point is, in life as well as in business, you need to evolve and grow rather than plateau once you’ve reached a particular position; and in order to grow in this way you need to engage in continuous learning.

The mistake many business leaders and managers make is that they rest on their laurels once they have reached a particular level of success and aren’t always open to expanding themselves; eventually, they get into a groove and tend to like things done the way they always have been done – but this isn’t good for business and it certainly isn’t good for your team; as unless you’re open to evolving yourself, and your knowledge, you’re skillset is going to eventually become outdated and obsolete.

2. BE THE CAPTAIN

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There’s a fine line between being a leader and being a dictator, and it’s important to remember that whilst you are the leader of the project your role is directional rather than dictatorial.  That said, there does need to be an element of hierarchy where you are differentiated as being the one in charge.  It can be a difficult balancing act, but one common pitfall is that you try to be everyone’s best friend rather than the captain of the ship.  Captain’s unapologetically give orders to their crew; and whilst it’s important to be civil and respectful, it’s equally important that you take the wheel and lead this project to its final destination.  If you feel like there might be a mutiny afoot, and you feel like you are losing control of the project – step up – and assert your authority.  You need to develop the power to assert healthy boundaries and expectations within your team.  Take to the helm and be the Captain of this ship… people will not only start to respect and listen to you more, they will pull together more as a team.

3. DON’T MICROMANAGE

It’s important you allow people to own their task but for you to provide that task to them. If you start micromanaging someone then your team is going to get fed up very quickly, not just because of the inference that there’s a lack of trust or respect… but just because it’s annoying.  Be there to support, to direct, and to uphold boundaries (such as deadlines) but let your teammates get on with it.  When people feel they have autonomy over their work they tend to want to do much better than when it feels like someone is constantly looking over their shoulder.  If that’s the case, this is when team members tend to rebel, lose motivation, and drop out.

4.  WORK IN COLLABORATION

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It’s common when managing a team, particularly one with a number of strong personalities, for their to be a fragmented approach to decision making where each member of the team puts forward their idea with such an attachment to it that conversations turn more into an arm wrestle or tug of war between the team members.  The important thing to remember here is that, as a team, you should be making decisions together, standing side by side as teammates – not sitting at opposite ends of the table like adversaries.  Focus on reinforcing this spirit of collaboration by having one clear goal that everyone is incentivized to reach and build a community spirit around achieving that goal, where each team member is valued for their contribution.

5.  USE BOTH THE CARROT AND THE STICK

You’ll have probably heard of the metaphor about the carrot and the stick which describes the polar forces of motivation theory.  Think of a donkey that has a carrot dangled in front of him; he moves toward the carrot because he is moving toward the pleasure associated with the reward of that carrot… at the same time, the man leading the donkey has a stick, and therefore as the camel doesn’t want to be hit by the stick he keeps moving away from the pain associated with the stick.

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In psychology there are two broad types of people; those that prioritize moving toward pleasure and those that prioritize getting away from pain.  Of course, most people have a mixture of both, but there is normally one predominant force that motivates a particular person – and it’s different for everyone.  Get to know your team and see what makes them take action; is it the possibility of reward or is it the fear of punishment?

By applying both forces, you will be able to manage most people effectively – but what does the carrot and the stick look like in a business context?  The carrot could be a cash incentive or public recognition, praise and appreciation for doing a good job.  The stick on the other hand, could be the fear of dismissal, being told off, being reported for not doing a good job, or having a penalty such as having to stay late at the office in order to get things finished.

The key principle here is to understand what motivates each team member and then frame your requests in a way that resonates with their predominant motivation (i.e. gain pleasure or avoid pain).

So, there we have five quick principles on how to effectively manage a team; of course there are myriad ways of handling a team successfully but hopefully these universally applicable principles will have provided some food for thought.

[Editor’s note: This post was produced by one of our trusted partners.]

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