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05 May 2022

Team management: How to take care of your IT teams

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A talented employee may choose to work for one company over another for different reasons. Perhaps this is due to a charismatic team manager, good pay, or additional professional development. However, how long they stay with the company and what they bring to it depends on their relationship with their immediate supervisor.

Research shows that an immediate superior is the most crucial factor. They shape the working conditions and become somewhat identical with them. It can be said that people part with their bosses, not with the company.

12 key team management questions

According to Gallup Institute research, twelve questions assess the factors that determine whether a job can attract, engage, and retain top talent.

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?  
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment necessary to get the job done right?  
  3. Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day at work?   
  4. In the last seven days, have I ever felt appreciated or been praised for my work?   
  5. Does my boss or anyone else at work care about me? Does anyone notice me as a person?  
  6. Does anyone at work encourage me to develop myself further?   
  7. Have I had opportunities for further training and development at work?  
  8. Have I spoken to anyone in the last six months about the progress I have made?  
  9. Does my opinion count at work?   
  10. Does my company mission make me feel that the work we do is important?   
  11. Are my co-workers internally determined to perform at the highest level?
  12. Do I have a best friend at work?

Without further ado, the following article will unpack some of the answers to these questions on effective team management, and unveil some essential strategies on how to successfully manage different team members through new ideas team tasks, and open communication. These should help build trust with your team and foster an environment that offers effective communication and better decision making.

 

Team Management: Questions 1 & 2

1) Do I know what is expected of me at work?  

2) Do I have the materials and equipment necessary to get the job done?  

The solution is quite elegant and effective. Set the expected goals, give the necessary equipment, and let workers determine their way to achieve them. So long as the results meet your expectations, it is not worth interfering to ‘improve’ their working style.

Besides, this approach encourages people to take responsibility. It gives a need to conquer. This can be achieved by defining the desired results. These are specific conditions in which everyone must learn. Not only do they scare away naysayers, but they also let employees get to know themselves. This includes how team members react to pressure, how they develop professionally, how they maintain focus on their objective – it even concerns how and when they need to rest. An employee learns their own path of least resistance, as well as the direction it leads.  

Best IT industry practices for your company:

Define tasks that take one working day to complete. If an issue is larger - divide it into smaller tasks together with your team, and delegate tasks accordingly. In such a case, team members can be independent, and you can systematically check the progress of work.

 

Team Management: Question 3

3) Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day at work?   

The most important thing is the ability to judge how successful you are in building a successful team. You must be able to distinguish talent from skills and knowledge. If you can't do that, you will perpetually manage a mismatched team.

Best IT industry practices for your company:

I already wrote about this in a previous issue. If you can instinctively recognize who is good at what, then you will guide the person. If not, use a tool such as Gallup Institute's StrengthsFinder test .

 

Team Management: Questions 4 & 5

4) In the last seven days, have I ever felt appreciated or been praised for my work?   

5) Does my boss or anyone else at work care about me? Does anyone notice me as a person?  

As a manager, you may believe you have more control over something than others, but this is not true. You have even less control. Every team member can decide what they will and won't do - how, when, and with whom. They are the one with the power to make good and bad things happen. You don't.

Exactly what you can do is influence, motivate, and advise. Ultimately, it’s lead by the belief that most of your people will do what you ask them to do. This is far removed from actually controlling. There is good team management, which comes with responsibility for the performance of the whole team. As a manager, you only have your time to invest. But at the end of the day, your success depends on how - and towards whom - you devote your energy. 

Best IT industry practices for your company:

Implementing a platform such as Grow Uperion allows you to achieve your business goals by motivating your employees. How? By increasing engagement through gamification.

For you, it is a significant source of knowledge about the activity of your team, thanks to which you will notice and appreciate any proactivity of the employee.

 

Team Management: Questions 6, 7, & 8

6) Does anyone at work encourage me to develop myself further?   

7) Have I had opportunities for further training and development at work?  

8) Have I spoken to anyone in the last six months about the progress I have made?  

These questions are about your ability to stimulate the development of your team members. If this one inquires: "What can I get up to here?" and you advise them to enrol on a course and keep doing their job - is this managing people properly?   

Best IT industry practices for your company:

Develop learning objectives for each department and role in the company and allow employees to use them during the "off-season" or, for example, for 10% of your working time per month. Be open to different ideas .

 

Team Management: Question 9

9) Does my opinion count at work?   

Focus on each person's strengths and accept their weaknesses.

Don't try to improve everyone. Help nurture talent and understand that every person is different. Each has unique abilities that are enduring and not susceptible to change. Unfortunately, many managers fail to recognize this.

Each person's identity depends not only on what they do but also on the way they do it. It depends on their style. Focusing on strengths is an afterthought, but it's also a way to show people respect. 

Best IT industry practices for your company:

Let people freely express their opinions, e.g., during regular brainstorming sessions. You never know who will inspire you and how!

 

Team Management: Questions 10, 11, & 12

10) Does my company mission make me feel that the work we do is important?   

11) Are my team members determined to perform at their highest level?   

12) Do I have a best friend at work?  

Effective team management is to encourage people to behave productively.

The ‘ macho ’ manager forgets that their reactions and leadership style influence the behaviour of employees. They forget that they’re playing on stage every day and that, whether they want to or not, are transmitting certain signals.

That’s why effective team leaders are constantly observing, and pay attention to productive behaviour, focusing on the efficient practices of their best-performing employees. It's not about monitoring. It's about understanding what the issue is and why ‘this solution’ works.  

Of course, one shouldn’t tolerate weak results. But there are always times to address inconsistencies to avoid a potentially toxic and unproductive situation. That’s why, you should react quickly, because any delay - as with any problems - only works against your team productivity. Most cases of lacklustre results will concern a lack of certain skills or knowledge. If it is a simple matter, like teaching someone how to use a computer program, or a delicate one like sharing a perspective, it is still just a matter of skill and knowledge to present. 

There is also another side to this. Managers are a reason for weak results. If a method of motivation is inappropriate for personality type and character, the cause of poor performance lies in the hands of the team leader.

Why? Everyone is motivated by something different. If there is something wrong with team members, perhaps you cannot discover what motivates them… Maybe if you trigger other impulses, you could unleash hidden talents. It’s understandable that you want to blame them for their poor performance. But before considering that, try changing the incentives, and offering constructive feedback. 

But, if it's not a matter of lack of skills or motivation, maybe the person doesn't have the talents you want. You cannot play a significant role in an area where team members lack talent. Persistence is helpful if you are trying to acquire a new skill or knowledge.

The act of persisting is even advisable. But directed against a lack of talent leads to self-destruction. Perseverance focused on lack of talent is wasted. So, everything is decided by staffing and team leadership by exception.

Good managers talk to their team. They know what their strengths, flaws, goals, and dreams are and offer constructive criticism where needed. They pay attention to what choices they make, through consistent communication.

Every personality should be treated as an exception. Everyone expects something different from their manager. Some team members need you to leave them alone from the first moment of employment. Others feel unimportant when you check in on them every day. Some people need compliments, whereas others need public praise.

The best leaders gather information about people. 

Best IT industry practices for your company:

It doesn't take much to have determined and committed employees. Just collect information to know what motivates them. Use the issues our HR team raises during interviews. These include:

  • work life balance
  • benefits
  • no ‘rat races’
  • caring for employees 
  • good atmosphere
  • understanding the bigger picture
  • interaction with competent people
  • interaction with other people
  • clear vision
  • location/good access
  • motivating tasks
  • opportunity to do my best
  • responsibility
  • openness to change
  • openness in relationships
  • praise/appreciation
  • a sense of security
  • a sense of purpose and meaning
  • a sense of competence
  • a sense of empowerment
  • a sense of fairness
  • helping others
  • individual work
  • working with others
  • prestige
  • realistic expectations
  • relationships with people
  • development
  • autonomy
  • stability
  • respect for me / mutual respect
  • intercultural environment
  • work topic according to interests
  • freedom
  • support
  • business trips or lack thereof
  • remuneration
  • challenges
  • facilities
  • building trust
  • alignment of company values with my values
  • a good team

Final thoughts on effective team management

It is starting to become good practice in the workplace to invest in employee satisfaction. It no longer matters whether you’re talking about a salesperson, driver, accountant, or seamstress. Employee morale is what effective managers should always strive to attain a positive work environment.

What about you? Do you know your people? Do you know what their talents are? What makes them work more efficiently? When are they happy? When are they irritated? The most important aspects of work are the most human activities such as sense, judgement, creativity, and vision.

Remember that a part of a company's wealth is in the heads of its team members. So, in a way, every team member who leaves an organization takes some of its assets - usually by transferring them to a competitor. You might even say that a company that loses people loses its capital.

Could you afford losing a specific team member, or could a few not-so strict guidelines be just what you were looking for?

One last thing - if you are interested in this topic, I encourage you to read “First, Break All the Rules, What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Marcus Buckingham, and “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Curt Coffman. Both of these make for great readings and provide advice on effective team management skills while at the same time offer insights into best kinds of leadership style and practices for your organization.

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Author

I am a French language speaking Project Manager and certified Scrum Master. I am responsible for the effectiveness of the project implementation and an internal organization of work. Before joining the IT industry, I worked in the fashion industry.