Copyright  2011 TIGERS Success

By Dianne Crampton

As a new team leader, it is important that you grasp key concepts that empower you and your team to achieve goals on deadline and with high standards. In this article, we explore the top three things you need to know, providing you with the skills and knowledge on what it takes to be a great team leader.

Tip one: How to give your team members motivation and assurance

Motivation is required for your team members to produce high-quality work that meets or exceeds the standards set for them. Without the appropriate training and incentive to succeed, team members may not feel their work is appreciated. Likewise they may not understand how the work they perform contributes to over arching goals.

This is contra productive for two reasons. First, if team members are not performing their roles to high standards and within the timeframe given to them, the organization fails to meet deadlines, which affects the team’s reputation and the organization’s growth and morale. Therefore, timely goal achievement is important to managing the project, and staff that under-perform produce a negative domino effect that may compromise the rest of the project.

Second, this can have a negative effect on the morale of other workers who share an office with unmotivated colleagues. Seeing other workers under-perform, and hearing why they may not be interested in performing well tends to be infectious and leads to the ineffective use of resources.

One great way to utilize your morale-boosting talents as team leader is to call regular meetings to discuss any concerns employees have and to track and report on goal progress. This allows team members to provide detailed feedback on their work including information on any barriers they may be running up against.  And any information about things you could do to help them improve their work. As you will learn even the most basic communication will make workers feel valued, and like they are being listened to and supported in the office environment by their superiors.

Also, it is worthwhile to ask whether your team leaders are motivated to begin with. If they are not, it is likely they may go along with a project even if they are not confident in their success. A top tip? Ask how this could go wrong, too – plan contingencies and establish how a project could fail.

Tip two: How to ensure your communication is effective

Of course, communication is important as well. Touching on the points made in our first tip,   holding regular meetings is the simplest (and yet the most effective way) to boost communication between colleagues. Interaction is an essential part of team building and trust, and if you are a team leader that is accessible and easy to communicate with, your team will be more open with you, at ease, and willing to discuss their comments, criticisms, suggestions and concerns. This is what you need to achieve.

You’ll be creating morale and team spirit, with a ‘we’re in this together’ morality. Not only does this improve efficiency, but good communication allows people to realize that they are working towards a collective goal, with strong guidance from you as a good team leader. As a new team leader, it is also very important that you invest your time into getting to know your team members, too – how they work, interact, present end results, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

Before the project even begins, organize an informal gathering or meeting that gives team members the opportunity to get to know one another. Therefore, less project time will be spent breaking the ice and building trust. If team members have already met in a social setting, there will be more common ground and familiarity as the project kicks off.

Whether you’re breaking the ice or helping motivate team members during difficult periods, try your best to organize fun activities every once in a while. This helps the team to relax and to discuss their progress is a less pressing environment. It helps build relationships and greater understanding of one another and creates a form of release and ‘likeability’ between staff.

Tip three: Team training for effective progress

In order to continue progress within a project, it’s important to ensure that all team members are capable of performing specific tasks. As time goes by, tasks will change and new skills may be required in order for the project to be completed.

In some cases, team members will not have the skills you need. Perhaps you did not have the opportunity to cherry pick the team you are working with and, therefore, could not handpick the qualities you need. Should this be the case, delegating to a subject matter expert will benefit communication, build bridges, and give support to employees who are on a steep learning curve.

As a team leader, it is up to you to learn your team member’s concerns and to level the playing field for input and contribution. Instead of relying on some team members to cover for those who feel less capable, it is up to you to implement training so that workloads are well distributed. This will help you  prevent fatigue on one hand and under-use of team resources on the other.

Essentially, it’s your job as a new team leader to ensure that employees are skilled, that communication is effective and all team members are motivated to do their job well. By paying heed to these three key points, you can ensure you are performing your job properly and your team members are able to meet deadlines and succeed.