Your work as a team leader can easily be compared to this of a coach. It is all about handling your team members’, mentality,collaboration strengths and weaknesses to extract the most out of them.. You must always try to take 110% of their capacity in a collaborative manner that allows team spirit and cooperation to flourish.
Is it an easy job? No way. The difficulties lie down to collaboration, hence the lack of true coaches out there. It is easier to find a very talented employee than an average talented team leader. So if you really want to lead your team you should think it twice and be certain that what you want is to improve and gain through your team’s performance and not through your individual success. If you already did that, these tips will certainly help you
- Select members wisely
If you are responsible in selecting the members of your team, think carefully who you choose. If you choose members with identical abilities you will end up in conflicts between their roles. Balance in capacities is always the key to harmony.
- Define roles
Discrete roles should be defined among the members. Collaboration does not mean that everyone will do the same tasks or that all resources can be reused. Having straight forward roles will help avoid conflicts and/or unassigned tasks. However, these roles should be redefined from time to time. Accepting your errors early in role assignment can reduce the cost of the error. It will also give the ability to try each member in different roles. PRoductivity measurement tools will help in the right way.
- Set targets for each member
Each one should have a very clear short term target. If targets are long term or if they are not set precisely, you will end up in having people working on the wrong tasks, overlapping tasks or even not working at all. Short term targets help you follow up with their work and evaluate it correctly.
- Use collaboration software
We don’t live in the middle ages any more. There are many cloud software (like Asana, Comidor, Podio) out there that can help you assign tasks, create projects, track the team’s progress, add milestones, share documents online, share tasks, handle events etc etc. You can find any feature you could ever imagine about team collaboration. So there is no excuse even if you have to manage teams in different locations. You could even use live video or audio chat to have an everyday meeting. They usually offer powerful business intelligence to export analytics and reports.
- Create a sense of community
You cannot collaborate with a stranger. Even open source projects maintained by programmers located far from each other try to have closer relationship. This does not mean that everyone must be best friends anyone, but that everyone sees the others like equivalent members. Respect and understanding are of top priority in a community. Egoism on the other side can have disastrous effects.
A short meeting per day is helpful to see where the team is heading, what problems they face and even get a hint on the relations growing among them. It has also been proven to create a light feeling of competition which can often have creative results. Nevertheless, you should try to keep a balance in your meetings frequency and duration, because long meetings especially in the middle of the day will end up reducing your productivity dramatically.
- Share resources (at least 2 people)
Try to make at least two people work on a certain type of task periodically. Small groups of 2-3 team members can exchange ideas on accomplishing a certain task more efficiently. Knowledge inside the team should be treated as a shared resources. This is also valuable in dealing with cases when some members of your team are unavailable.
Justice and objectiveness are always respected by team members. Rewards can help in this direction. Personal rewards may lead to jealousy by other members but more often ends in everyone efforts to achieve the same good performance. A team leader member should be able to praise and thank the members of the team who try harder. The reward does not have to be something expensive. The gesture is what counts.
George Fylaktopoulos is a senior software engineer with 9+ years of experience in Software analysis, developer of information systems, development of web applications, web services and mobile devices