What is Team Management?
Team management refers to those activities and actions that help in bringing a team together to carry out a specific task efficiently. Tasks can involve everyday activities or specific projects. The team manager is usually required to delegate specific tasks to the right people without bias or discrimination. The manager is also required to prioritize tasks as required and discuss any problems that may prevent their effective completion.
Team management doesn’t just stop at teamwork. It involves performance appraisals and objective setting as well. Team management also involves dispute identification and resolution within a particular team. There are several leadership styles and methods which can be used by team managers to increase employee productivity and create an effective team.
Elements of a Healthy and Successful Team
- Cohesive leadership
- Effective communication
- Common goal
- Defined team roles and responsibilities
- Command and Control
The “Command and Control” approach is based on the way teams are managed in the military. It became a popular system in private organizations during the early 21st century. The team leader in this approach instructs all team members to complete a particular task. If anybody refuses or is tardy, the team lead will punish or yell until the individual complies. This is based on an autocratic leadership style.
- Engage and Create
Managers quickly understood the ineffectiveness and limitations of “Command and Control” in private sectors. They designed an alternative management strategy that encouraged discussions and contributions. Engage and Create is a highly popular team management tool. It helps in instilling a stronger sense of unity and teamwork. The approach is proven to increase the productivity and accountability of all team members while pushing the team towards unimagined success.
- Econ 101
The team leader in this method of management assumes that all team members find money and its various forms of ample motivation. The method involves financial rewards for performance to motivate individual team members to perform better. There are punishments issued for failures as well. Intrinsic motivation is replaced by a material gain in Econ 101and is similar to Taylor’s theory of Scientific Management.
Problems in Team Management?
- Absence of trust
The biggest challenge faced by a team leader is a complete or partial absence of vulnerability-based trust. This refers to a situation where team members don’t trust each other or are wary of being vulnerable in each other’s presence. They are unwilling to ask for help or admit mistakes. They may also refrain from sharing skills and knowledge. Such behavior can be highly detrimental to a team as is explained in Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
- Fear of conflict
Conflict can be a positive team element when used appropriately to drive the discussion. Fear of conflict means that team members are fearful of arguing and disagreeing with one another or the team leader. The concept of a team fails to exist if team members are afraid of confrontations. This means that only one individual is contributing and there are no new ideas being generated.
- Lack of commitment
Team members that fail to provide their input to discussions and decisions are not committed enough in the team. They may not agree or approve of the decision but refrain from voicing out their opinion. This can harm the organization in more ways than one. Sometimes, disagreements can fuel stronger, results-oriented discussions that may identify a better way to complete tasks.
- Avoidance of accountability
Avoidance of accountability within the team members means a failure for the team. This refers to a situation where individuals are not responsible for the consequences arising out of their actions. Team members that don’t commit to a decision will not take responsibility for its outcome. This lack of peer to peer accountability may stem from a lack of trust. Certain team leaders who are hesitant of confrontations may decide to hold back on making team members accountable for their actions.
- Inattention to results
A team where no one is accountable is doomed to fail. Nobody will be concerned about the team’s outcome if team members and leaders do not hold each other accountable. They will not achieve their goal and won’t pay attention to results. This is because they are not driven to obtain results. Inattention to results can cause several problems since it involves a lack of purpose. It may also bring about a question into the very existence of the team.
This refers to an approach where fundamental trust issues are targeted and resolved. The team leaders may persuade team members to open up to others and take the first step towards trust-building by asking questions and seeking guidance from one another.
This kind of engagement may drive vulnerability and make team members more familiar with each other. It is important to understand that trust begins with the team leader. If the leader is unwilling to step into a vulnerable position, everyone else will hesitate too.
Appraisals are a great way for team members to advise the team leader or offer feedback to one another. It allows individual team members to reflect on their stand within the team framework and their contribution.
When provided, appropriately, appraisal motivates team members to reflect on their performance and take concrete steps to improve on their mistakes. Appraisals also help in creating an environment where there is no chain of command. This encourages team members to work with each other and be honest.
Team building activities
Team building activities can be described as a series of exercises to improve communication, collaboration, and teamwork. The main objective of these exercises is to increase vulnerability and trust among team members. These activities are also designed to allow team members to understand one another better.
It is important to determine whether a team requires experience or an event when deciding on team building activities. Events are fun and can be completed by non-professionals quickly. However, experience allows for richer and more meaningful results.
These are a few examples of team building activities:
- Back to Back Drawing – This team building activity involves two team members to sit with their backs to each other. One member is given a photo or a picture while the other is provided with a blank piece of paper. The member who has the picture has to help the other member sketch it. They have to work in unison where one describes the image and what it includes while the other attempts to replicate it. This game is targeted at improving communication between team members.
- The Human Knot – This team building activity involves all team members to grab hands and stand in a circle. Members are required to hold the hands of those participants who are not standing immediately next to them. The objective of this game is to unravel the circle of tangled hands. Physical touch helps members become familiar with each other. It also helps in improving physical and verbal communication.
What Makes Teams Effective?
Team effectiveness occurs when a team has clear, concise, and attainable goals and the confidence that they can accomplish those goals. Communication plays a major role in team effectiveness. It is imperative to accomplish tasks, discussing ideas, and conveying information or decisions.
Reliability and trust are other important aspects of team effectiveness. According to Tuckman’s influential theory, trust and reliability are established during the “storming” phase. Trust allows for higher levels of cohesion within the team is propelling its effectiveness. Cohesion within the team allows overcoming of conflicts and resolving disputes.
Effectiveness is a priority in managerial teams since they bear the burden of directing and leading other teams. Non-managerial teams are only concerned with setting team tasks. In contrast, managerial teams are deemed effective only when a high-performance level is accomplished for the organization or business unit.
Team effectiveness can be greatly improved by receiving support, insight, and feedback from higher-level leaders on making decisions and performing activities.
The autocratic team management style involves providing clear directions to a team. Autocratic leaders have complete control over individual team actions and task-setting. Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan, Helen Gurley Brown, is a famous autocratic leader.
These team managers don’t expect any ideas, feedback, or input from team members. They like to take over the team and possess complete control over decision making. Motivation in an autocratic team needs to come from within the individual. Team managers don’t believe they have to provide any sort of motivation for the members to complete tasks assigned to them.
Democratic is the complete opposite of autocratic leadership style. This team management style involves the notion that everybody in the organization has a say, regardless of their title or position. The best idea wins in such a team setting regardless of whoever brought it to the table.
Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM is a famous democratic leader who likes to offer her employees every chance to contribute to the company’s growth and share ideas. Democratic leaders usually provide motivation by offering an equal platform for everyone to participate.
Laissez-Faire is a popular team leadership style employed by the likes of notable business magnate Warren Buffett. Employees are offered complete freedom to do as they please. They can think the way they want and self-direct their actions without any interference or overseeing. However, all Laissez-Faire team managers expect results in the given time period.
Managers are always available in case someone needs help. They don’t interfere with how assignments and tasks are handled, but step in if there is a problem or some team member specifically asks for help. Teams managed by the Laissez-Faire approach are expected to seek and find their own motivation.
Transactional management style implements a reward-penalty system to achieve results. It also establishes a clear structure and hierarchy within the team. This is one of the most popular styles of team management and is used by Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation.
Transactional leaders set requirements and criteria that their teams need to achieve. Employees are offered a performance reward based on whether they could meet the set requirements. Motivation within a transactional team framework is provided by managers by way of extrinsic reward and penalties.