Whether you have just joined an organization as a new team leader or taken charge of an existing department in your company, guiding a team is always intimidating for new leaders. There are several challenges and unexpected situations may crop up anytime making your task more difficult. Co-workers have their own opinions and work methods that you might be unaware of. Dealing with them in a fruitful manner is not easy.
However, being a team leader, it is your responsibility to build and sustain a healthy team that is high on productivity and collaboration. These practical tips can help you handle critical situations better.
As a new team leader, it is natural for you to try and deliver as quickly as possible. However, do understand that each organisation or department is unique and has its own strengths and weaknesses. As a new leader, take time to understand your job profile, what exactly is expected of you and how to go about it while keeping in line with the company culture and ethics.
Review your workload thoroughly and understand the priorities that compulsorily require your personal presence. For the rest of the time, you should be more visible to your team members and be there to offer support, suggestions and advice as and when required.
It is always better to walk among your team members rather than sitting in your cabin and expecting your co-workers to come up to you in case they need help. In most cases, they won’t bother since they are already accustomed to working in a particular way.
So be involved in your job and with your team if you want to create a positive impression.
The fact that you are the new team leader doesn’t guarantee whole-hearted acceptance and respect from your co-workers from the very beginning. Respect and acceptance must be earned over time through continuous interaction and motivation.
Only then will you be able to influence your team the way you want to. You need to know what makes each team member tick in order to extract the best out of them.
Don’t let your ego get the better of you.
Some members can be difficult and may need more patient handling. Some of the team members might not be good at certain things and may prefer to do some other job. Knowing your team inside out is the first step towards successful leadership.
Now that you are accustomed to your job profile and have become a ‘part’ of your team, it’s time to build further. Keep your communication lines open and be transparent about any decision that needs collective collaboration. This makes your team members feel more inclusive and important and they will show more interest in their assignments.
Continuous communication also helps you to connect with your co-workers, which is so essential for the success of a team. Your team members will be more open to suggestions and interaction if you maintain the right communication line with them.
With proper communication and transparency, you will be able to keep a tab on each member’s progress, identify the risks that can hamper the growth of your team and ascertain other issues that need your attention.
As a team leader, co-workers look up to you for guidance and inspiration. If you feel something needs to be changed, set an example by first doing it yourself. If you want your team to show a certain attitude or follow certain principles, be the first person to follow these traits.
However, never fake an attitude just to set an example. The impact will soon fizzle out and your co-workers will be back to their usual ways.
Be honest with yourself and your team and you will soon earn their respect.
Just because you are the ‘boss’ doesn’t mean you can undermine your co-workers’ abilities and trustworthiness. You are here to lead and guide a team, not to find faults or keep a constant eye on them.
Such an attitude is not only intimidating but also makes your team members suspicious of your ‘ultimate intentions’ (which is not at all healthy for a team).
Treat all your team members fairly irrespective of their abilities, responsibilities and assignments. Do not promote favouritism or criticise a particular member in front of others. In fact, don’t ‘criticize’ at all. Provide constructive feedback instead.
Listening is as important as transparent communication. It is but natural for people to have their own issues and sometimes unpleasant situations can crop up despite your best efforts. As a team leader, you should give a patient hearing to any grievances a member may have.
Encourage your team members to think out of the box and come up with practical yet innovative solutions. Listen to their point of view instead of thrusting your decision.
Remember that some of your team members are experts in their field and more experienced than you.
Keep faith in your team members and delegate assignments with the confidence that they will deliver their best. Being a leader doesn’t mean you should complete an assignment your team member can’t or won’t.
Be assertive about what you expect from each member but give them the liberty to work on their own as long as they are on the right track. Don’t handle each and every issue yourself. You will only over-stress yourself and spend less time on more important aspects.
As a team leader, the going will hardly be smooth and easy every single day. Despite your best efforts, often you will have to take decisions that are not exactly pleasing.
Even then, do no procrastinate. Delaying unpleasant decisions will not solve the problem but aggravate it further. Ultimately, you will be held responsible as the ultimate leader of your team.