By Peter Marlow
So, you’ve been given a new project to manage and it’s big. You’ve been given some staff to help you but you’ve never managed staff before.
Managing people is not easy and it’s not something that is easily learned, except by doing it and making mistakes. Don’t worry, here are ten tips to help you to manage your new team effectively:
Build your team
Everyone is different. Your team will each have different strengths and weaknesses, and have an individual part to play in making your project a success. Management Theorist Meredith Belbin identified 9 different team roles – Resource Investigator, Team Worker, Co-ordinator, Plant (Problem Solver), Monitor Evaluator, Specialist, Shaper, Implementor and Completer Finisher. Most people will be most comfortable with two or three of these roles, but not all. So, get to know your staff. Give them tasks that exploit their strengths and help them with their weaknesses.
Involve your team in drawing up your Project Plan. It will be a better plan as a result, and the team will have a sense of ownership. They will understand how they fit into the bigger picture, not just as a cog in a huge machine.
Set reasonable goals
We all need goals to give us direction and purpose. Set goals for your team which are SMART. That is, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based, but also
reasonable. Circumstances do change so it’s important to make team members feel that they can push back if they feel they’re being asked to do the impossible. Review goals and progress regularly as a team.
Keep a high-level view
It’s your job to lead and you can only do this if you can clearly see where you are going. So, don’t dive into the detail – this is your team’s job – unless it is to solve particular problems. It’s hard to do this sometimes as your team may be doing some really interesting work that you would prefer to be doing! Don’t be tempted. Keep your head above the parapet.
Learn to Delegate
Project Mangers tend to be “one-man-bands”, doing everything themselves. But on a big project you just cannot do this – you need your team to help. So, learn to delegate and trust them. Don’t be frustrated that it may take longer to train someone to do a job that you could do yourself in half the time. You only do this once and you’re investing in your staff. And don’t try to manage their every move, known as “micro-management”. Remember, you and your team will ultimately deliver more together than if you worked as a group of individuals.
Communicate and listen
Good communication with your team, your managers, and your stakeholders is vitally important so that they know what’s going on. But do it in a way that you don’t have to keep repeating yourself. Also remember communication is two way. Create a working environment where everyone feels heard and respected.
If there is conflict in your team, perhaps caused by stress over a tight deadline or lack of resources, it’s crucial that the issues are addressed straight away. Otherwise they will magnify and be even harder to resolve.
Every team member wants to do a good job. And when they do a good job, a few words of encouragement or a simple “thank you” will be appreciated. Creating an atmosphere of appreciation actually helps if you have to discuss poor performance with a team member. You will be perceived as fair minded with high standards.
Respect culture and diversity
We don’t always think the same way about a problem. Take time to understand different points of view and ways of doing things. There’s often no particular right way or wrong way to solve a problem. Use diversity as a strength not a weakness or a nuisance.
You are not on your own
If you can’t solve a problem on your own then refer it to your line manager. Remember management is a resource to be used just like any other. Ask your line manager for help in planning your personal development. You could also find a mentor, someone to guide you who is outside your line management chain.
What do you think of this article? Does it reflect your own experiences? Do you have any questions? Send in a comment and start a discussion.