26 Secrets to Effective Team Management [Expert Roundup]Written by Bernard on May 17, 2017
Managing a small or medium-sized team can be great for your business—if you have the right team management skills.
However, managing a team of different people with different sets of skills can be daunting sometimes.
This is even more difficult if you have team members in different cities or countries.
Remote team management becomes crucial then to make sure the team members stay motivated, knowledgeable, and productive.
But what are the best ways to handle your teams? We went ahead and asked the experts for their tried and true effective team management secrets.
Here’s what they said.
Casey Tongg, Marketing Manager for CFR Rinkens
Improving the efficiency of your team begins with motivation. A great way to motivate your team is through competition (friendly, of course).
We began using Hoopla, a software package that ties together competitive elements directly into our Salesforce platform.
We have been able to increase numbers for everyone on the sales team as a result.
It’s also allowed each person in the company to feel more connected with our sales process, since we are able to display sales figures (and competition standings) on a large central display in our office.
Levi Boyd, Sales Representative at Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu
The #1 way to improve the effectiveness of your salespeople and increase sales is by focusing on providing your sales reps with the best information possible.
Start by investing in high quality data sources that provide accurate names, titles, and contact information. When sales reps are asked to do this, it really reduces their productivity.
After you’ve handed your reps great data, you can structure that data into groups of similar leads.
Your leads can be grouped by lead source, title path, industry, company size and/or message tactic. This gives sales reps the chance to prepare one time for calls to an entire group, instead of preparing for each individual call separately.
This also allows managers to customize messaging strategies to entire groups to improve results.
Jake Tully, Head of Creative Department at TruckDrivingJobs.com
In managing remote team members, I’ve found that one of the most effective practices is to sit down with your team and discuss what both sides think an effective work-life balance looks like.
It’s important to get the perspective from those who are managing their lives around the job as well as what practices are going to work from a business standpoint.
Managing a team within the same terms of an in-office staff is both unrealistic and inefficient.
Maintaining good levels of communication and ensuring satisfactory work is completed is only possible when a manager understands and agrees upon the routine and process that a remote team member must go through in order to work diligently.
Charles Dugan, Owner of American Image Displays
Nobody likes being micromanaged. Instead give team members opportunities to grow and take on more responsibility.
By providing employees with autonomy and empowering them to manage projects, you can build a positive company culture that embraces personal growth.
The more skills and knowledge your team member develop individually, the better for the business collectively. Once someone has mastered a skill set, they can teach others at the company, which facilitates collaboration and teamwork.
Cody Clifton, Challenge Coins 4 Less
We combined our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform with our Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) to help marketers on our team connect crucial campaign strategies with the financial outcomes.
This provided our salespeople with better visibility into prospecting and leads. It also allowed our marketing team to hand leads over to sales without manually exporting anything.
This is a huge time saver and makes the sales process flow a lot smoother.
Ryan O’Connor, Owner of One Tribe Apparel
Have an easy to use system for communication and assigning tasks. We use slack to communicate and have it integrated with trello for assigning specific tasks daily, weekly & monthly.
We use Google docs to host our SOP’s (standard operating procedures) and spreadsheets that track outreach to bloggers & social media influencers.
Have clear SOP’s that include images & video so new team members can take over simple tasks. The next step is to assign your team members to create & update SOP’s.
Empower your team by asking for there input and how they would solve problems. Every two weeks I have a survey go out to each team member that asks them questions like: “What new strategies would you put in place to help us grow our Instagram by 1,000 followers per week?”
Have an hourly rate plus incentive for hitting growth metrics. For my two team members who help grow our social media, they get a bonus every time we hit different growth milestones which helps keep them motivated.
Tanner St. James, Marketing Coordinator at The Scott Resort & Spa
When it comes to collaboration tools, one of my favorites for managing my team and streamlining communication is through an app called Slack.
Instead of trying to communicate through phone calls, texting, email, and Skype, everything runs smoothly because it’s integrated directly through the app.
It’s really cool because I can talk about various subjects in different channels so that everyone on the team is able to see any updates, pictures, files and more. I can’t tell you how many times I struggled to maintain email threads that were a mile long.
This tool has really helped condense all of that. It’s really easy to find content as well because everything is searchable from one main search box.
Chris Post, Post Modern Marketing
A fun little incentive I like to offer to encourage my team members is our “Beer Money Bonus.”
Any time an employee goes above and beyond, they get a $10 Beer Money Bonus as a sign of recognition for going the extra mile. Of course, they can spend it on whatever they want, but it’s been a tradition since I started my company back in 2010.
In addition, we recently started doing team lunches on Fridays, with a different team member picking the restaurant each week.
We’ve been able to explore the new restaurants in our local area, learn more about each other, and share a lot of laughs. It’s a great team-building activity we look forward to each week.
Oli Russell-Cowan, Founder of Rad Season
Implement effective hiring practices to make sure that you get the innovative and bright team members on board that you’ll need to help you with growth and strategy
This is a critical one: Perform a SWOT Analysis on your team and business, build out your strategy and models accordingly, and repeat as often as necessary.
Analyzing SWOT is an effective measure in determining what factors are involved in decision making and identifying your venture’s future in the market. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Don’t do everything on your own. Become a delegator and effective communicator. Trust your team to do their jobs.
Listen to your intuition—there’s much to be said about what your gut is telling you.
Stay focused on what you love. Rad Season was born because I created a solution to a problem in an industry I love. If it’s not something you are 100% passionate about it’s only a matter of time before you lose interest in your venture.
Andrew Elliott, Founder of GoDesignerGo
These are the three biggest tips we use with all of our employees (since all of us are remote!)
1. If workers span time zones, set up specific meeting and overlap times.
We set up two times per week that are required by all employees to be available on their schedule.
This time (usually Mondays and Thursdays) helps us define major goals for the week and to see our progress for the week and prepare for the following weekend.
2. Keep collaboration software consistent across employees.
Employees are free to use whatever tool fits the job best when they are working, but when files are to be share to the team we always use Dropbox.
For chat and video, we always use Skype. For shared documents we always use Google Docs.
This helps us speed up the collaboration process by making sure everyone is on the same piece of software at the same time rather than distributing links to all manner of collaboration tool.
3. Have an open door policy, even if that means staying up late or getting up early.
As the founder of a remote-based company, this means making time for your employees in the time zone that is best for them. For example, we have a few Rockstar designers based in the Philippines.
When I meet with them for a one-on-one or when they want to meet with me to discuss a topic of concern, I meet on their time.
This also has the added benefit of boosting individual employee morale and a sense of accomplishment to the work they are doing. The lack of immediate feedback can be a tough aspect of working in a timezone that is opposite to your boss.
Hailey Vasquez, Project Manager at Odd Dog Media
The most important component of good teamwork at our office is communication.
We have contractors and employees who work remotely, so face-to-face communication is sometimes limited. We promote strong, open communication by using subject-specific channels in Slack.
By stating your expectations for timing, updates, feedback, and work quality ahead of time, you can avoid a lot of frustration and wasted time.
We have also found that using the right project or task management tools can transform a team.
Our office has been using Insightly for a few months now and it’s been a game changer. The software organizes all of our client information, project information, client correspondence, and tasks all in one place.
Being able to assign tasks to particular team members increases accountability and decreases the chances of a request getting lost in the shuffle (or the inbox).
And managers get an excellent overview of each project status – including what’s been completed, what’s in progress, and what has yet to be started. It takes all the guesswork out of the equation and allows for trust, cooperation, and efficiency to grow among our team.
Bob Shoyhet, CFO of Melillo Consulting
Owners and managers often confuse delegation with responsibility. Their mistake is assuming that once they hand off a task or project their job is done.
Just the opposite. In order to ensure success you need to be diligent about follow up, as well as measurement of your team’s results against communicated expectations.
You should create a list of action items for your team, assign specific employees to each task, create due dates and track progress status.
The key is to communicate your expectations with your team before you start each project. Explain the overall purpose of the assignment, make your team feel like they’re part of the effort by keeping them in the loop of changes and results.
Employees do not like being talked at, who does? Making them part of the process is a true motivational factor that can mean the difference between success and failure of your plan.
Jeff Hands, President of TracRite Software
While managing a large team requires a highly-organized, managed approach, managing a small team comes with its own set of challenges.
With a small team, the dynamic is more tight-knit and personalities are everything. When hiring you need to focus on more than just a resume; you need to consider personality compatibility and work ethic.
The ability to both collaborate, yet work independently without constant direction and management is key.
Emily Sidley, Senior Director of Publicity for Three Girls Media, Inc.
I manage a team of 5, all of whom telecommute. Based on my experience, I have the following advice:
Be clear when you assign tasks. Make sure each person knows what they’re responsible for and what their deadlines are.
We do this by keeping a master client spreadsheet that breaks down all our current clients, services we’re providing and who is managing which parts of their campaign.
Stay connected. We do this by holding a weekly meeting via video chat where we go through each account and update each other on the campaigns.
Then I check in with each team member one-on-one via phone during the week so we can discuss any questions or concerns before they become bigger problems.
Work together. Even if you aren’t physically with each other, you can foster a team approach. We do this in a few ways:
- When someone needs help with an account (from handling a few quick tasks during a very busy week or covering during an unexpected absence such as sickness or family emergencies), we pitch in to help each other out.
- We have a private Facebook group called our “Water Cooler” where we can share the type of personal information you’d chit-chat about in a more traditional office setting.
- Once a quarter we also schedule an all-team “coffee break,” where we send coffee gift cards to the team and have everyone buy themselves some coffee, and then we meet on a video chat for about 30 minutes to just hang out together and talk about non-work related items.
Taylor Dumouchel, Small Business Expert at Peak Sales Recruiting
Here are two major challenges small businesses face with their remote workers and how to solve them:
1. Lack of Face-to-Face Communication
Solution: Make distance a chance to prove you trust your team.
Forum’s recent Global Leadership Pulse survey revealed that trust has a direct impact on the engagement levels of remote teams.
Great managers turn the autonomy that flexible, remote work has to offer into a chance to show your team you trust them with certain responsibilities and tasks. This leaves your employees feeling empowered, engaged and connected – despite the distance.
2. Sustaining Employee Engagement
Solution: Select the right people
The first line of defense in keeping remote employees engaged is to prevent the problem from arising in the first place. As much as possible, ensure you are hiring individuals who are enterprising, driven, and able to work independently.
While any small business role will require these characteristics to a degree, the amount of independent work required by a remote employee makes possessing these traits significantly more important.
Laura MacLeod, LMSW From The Inside Out Project®
I work with many small businesses-specifically team building and relationships.
Lots of different ways to strengthen and build relationships, but probably the most overlooked yet most important- is resolving conflict. As a leader, you need to model and teach your team to confront issues and work them through- not avoid, sweep under the rug or handle in a passive aggressive way.
This is not easy, but it means stating what you see: I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of tension here. Jane it looks like you’re frustrated. Joe you seem disengaged.
These statements show that you see there’s a problem- not accusing or questioning anyone. The team needs your help in getting out the bad blood and resolving whatever is negatively effecting the team.
Bruce Bolger, President of the Bruce Bolger Company
Three “tips” that successful leaders use in building high performance work teams:
1. Successful leaders recognize that the world doesn’t revolve around them it revolves around their employees. They understand the importance of taking their ego out of the equation and focusing on establishing a culture that helps employees succeed as individuals.
2. Successful leaders know what makes their employee’s “tick”. They understand that management strategies for motivating employees are not “one size fits all” but a tailored approach for each individual employee.
3. Successful leaders recognize the importance of the “human side” of leadership and that it is important to help people succeed in life as well as in business. Leaders capable of feeling empathy and compassion have a significant edge on those that keep things “strictly business”.
Antonella Pisani, CEO/Founder of OfficialCouponCode.com
1. Set clear expectations on priorities – When you’re leading a small business, there’s usually far more work to get done than capacity.
For this reason, it’s important that you’re on what needs to get done each day/week/month and ensure that your team members are aligned.
2. Request simple weekly reports and updates – Have each member of the team send over a simple weekly report which includes what was done last week, what’s coming up next week, any issues they encountered and insights they found. In addition to creating accountability, this also helps ensure that priorities continue to be aligned.
3. Share successes broadly – Whether your employees are full time, part time, contractors or remote, they all want to feel like their work makes an impact.
As a leader, it only takes a minute to send a quick note about a win and that win doesn’t have to be huge to matter. It could be an article being shared by a great publication, a new customer, or an exciting sales trend.
This will help create satisfaction and loyalty, but also ensures that you take time to celebrate the victories you’re enjoying as you lead your small business into the future.
Candace Spears, Author of Bring Your Crayons to the Office
The success of a small team is dependent on each member being able to contribute in mind share and dialogue to the outcome.
There’s a difference in a team working together based on assignments they’ve been instructed to do, versus a team that is bought into the outcome in front of them, and offers a voice in the planning and execution.
For teams with remote members, it’s challenging for some of the mind share and contribution to come thorough, especially where there are more dominant voices on the team.
Blocking time for individual reflection activities as part of larger team meetings are helpful to allow everyone to articulate their thoughts without feeling disadvantaged.
Ryan D Matzner, Founder of Fueled
One of the most productive initiatives we’ve taken is set up a bi-weekly meeting called “Pizza and Presentations”.
Every other Thursday we order lunch for the company and various team members are nominated to present projects they’re working on or ideas they’re passionate about.
Not only do these presentations provide awareness, but they’re a commodity that allows Fueled members to present ideas and ask questions that are important to them.
I highly recommend using Slack as the main channel of office communication. Having Slack is a great way to make company announcements and we strive to make it the key platform of communication for the company (instead of email).
For project management, we use Trello, which is great for keeping tasks organized and coworkers in the know.
Eric Bowen, Digital Marketing Manager at BroadbandSearch
I am in charge of a remote team of five SEO specialist.
I have found success in setting clear goals and expectation for each member of my remote team. In order for this go smoothly, there needs to be regular communication, both online and face-to-face.
We meet once a week via video conferencing in order to keep the entire team informed about the company and anything going on. This creates a sense of comradery and helps our remote worker feel like a part of the physical company.
Communication from all parties is how my remote team is able to function at its best.
William Gadea, Creative Director and Founder of IdeaRocket LLC
We keep a Google spreadsheet that we call WHO-WHAT-WHEN.
Every time we have a meeting and agree upon an action that needs to be taken, we write down WHO is responsible for that action, WHAT the action is, and WHEN it is due by.
This really helps to keep us all accountable – including me! Otherwise, deadlines get fudged and tasks fall through the cracks.
Another document that has helped us is the How-Do-We Manual. It is basically the answer to every “How do we…” question that we might have.
How do we order coffee? How do we track invoices or onboard a freelancer? We find this useful because it provides continuity when a staff member leaves or goes on vacation, and nobody knows how a task is performed.
It takes a while to set up, but it saves many hours later on.
Steve Benson, Founder and CEO of Badger Maps
When managing a team, it’s important to be a great motivator and coach. You need to understand that people are looking for more than just a high salary. They want to be happy with their job while developing a successful and fulfilling career.
As a manager, you should regularly meet with your team members to make sure they’re being adequately challenged in their role and satisfied with their growth and career development.
You need to know what their individual and team goals are and keep them motivated by enabling them to reach these goals.
One great thing you can do to constantly teach your team is provide the platforms for them to teach things to each other.
We have Google Presentations that are shared across a team, and organized by topic. When someone runs into a question, or figures out how to do something, they can create a slide on the topic, so everyone can benefit from it.
When someone asks me a question, I don’t just answer it for them, I add it to the doc for the whole team. Since we organize them by job role, these resources have proven to be extremely effective for quickly on-boarding new employees as well.
Edgar Davin, Founder and CEO of bigDAWGS Promotions
Hire humans and not robots! Robots take orders and perform tasks as instructed. Humans think and make decisions.
Focus on building your team with individuals that are capable of understanding your goals and making decisions. This takes a leap of faith, but in the end you’ll find that people are smart and more capable than you think.
Not every decision will be a good ones, but in the end as long as the good decisions greatly outweigh the bad ones, that is all that matters. They may even come up with brilliant and more ideas that would never have occurred to you.
Sally Kane, Content Director for PaperStreet
Solicit feedback and ideas from your team on a weekly basis.
The more your team members are invested in the process and are encouraged to share their ideas, the more you will boost morale and team performance.
I hold weekly meetings with my team members to review projects, discuss concerns and vet new ideas.To help build camaraderie and build relationships between team members, it is a good idea to build in some fun, social activities.
For example, we recently hosted a Cinco de Mayo party for onsite team members and hosted dinners for remote employees in Pittsburgh and Denver.
These activities can help build trust, rapport and friendship between team members.
Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com
I believe that the best tried and true tips for managing a small business team are
- to be present
- be open-minded
If you show you are around and available as a leader, your team will communicate with you. they are often the face to the customers and partners.
They are the ones who hear the ups and downs of your product or service. It’s critical that your team members feel comfortable communicating the good, bad & ugly.
It’s also important that you communicate back. Share your company goals; share the initiatives that you are working on; be open and be yourself.
Through that, your team members will be on your ‘page’ all working and moving in the same direction. Having a clear message and having the team focus on working toward that direction makes all the difference.
Have you used any of these effective team management tips with your small business team? Have any others you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!