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Leadership Project Management

5 Effective Team Management Strategies You Don’t Find In Books

Reading Time: 5 minutes

team management

In our experience we found team management is one of the areas many managers grapple with. Seasoned managers and especially new managers have a very difficult time herding the team together to reach a common goal.

Effective team management deals with a combination of dimensions like team psychology, human behaviors at the individual and collective level, factors that motivate teams and the manager’s leadership style and personality. Mastering all of these skills is important to be able to successfully manage a team and deliver high performance results.

It is key that the manager while dealing with his teams act and behave in a matured selfless manner. We have seen personally many new managers fail badly as they are focused too much on themselves and not on the teams.

In his much acclaimed book – Good to Great by Jim Collins (A must read if you have not done so) Jim quotes

Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into a larger goal of building a great company. It is not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self interest. Indeed they are incredibly ambitious – but their ambition is first and foremost the institution, not themselves

Read the above statement everyday and let is sink into your subconsciousness mind.

Now let us look at the various elements of this aspect and how a manager can be successful through these stages.

Team Development Life Cycle

team formation

Bruce Tuckman, an educational psychologist, identified a five-stage development process you see above.

It is very important to understand the life cycle of team development. Each phase dictates the collective behavior of the team and the manager must be equipped with the understanding to deal with each stage.

.Let us see in detail about each of these

Forming

The forming stage involves a period of orientation and getting acquainted. Uncertainty is high during this stage, and people are looking for leadership and authority. Each person is sizing up the other and trying to put the best behavior forward. As a manager it is important to understand this psychology. If you are a new manager to the team, remember the team is sizing you up as well.Questions in the team’s mind would be like “How will I fit in ?”, “What position should I take up?”, How can I assert my position?” etc..

Managers’s  Role

  • Spend time to understand every member of the team. Figure out their strengths, weakness and personalities
  • Spend 1-1 time outside the team meetings. Build a personal rapport
  • Help setup team building activities that bring the team together and give them opportunities to get to know each other well
  • Do not exert any directive style or authoritative style of management at this stage (We will cover leadership styles next)

Storming

The storming stage is the most difficult and critical stage to pass through for the teams and the manager. It is a period marked by conflict and competition as individual personalities begin to  emerge. Team might not come to a consensus on various aspects like team goals , roles or meeting schedules. This is a inevitable stage, the team must go through the pain and overcome the obstacles. They have to find a way to resolve the conflicts and collaborate for the greater good. There could be some aggressive personalities who will be difficult to handle. Left unresolved this will result in long term problems within the team. Team must understand the need to come together.

Managers’s  Role

  • Important to intervene and resolve conflicts (Conflict resolution is covered in another article) in a constructive way
  • Work towards driving the team towards a common good and a larger vision. Lead them to think beyond themselves
  • Begin to set ground rules on engagement and team culture. Lead by example
  • As you know your team by now it is time to define the  team’s R&R

Norming

As the team gets through the storming phase gradually most of the conflicts will begin to get resolved and the team will start moving towards collaboration and unity in the norming stage. People will change their behaviors in a way that will align with the larger goals. There could still be some interpersonal issues at this stage but largely there will be a acceptance across the team and they will tend to become indifferent to the aggressive ones. Overall performance of the team will scale up in this phase but the balance is still precarious. Conflicts can take the team back to storming phase

Managers’s  Role

  • Establish and communicate clearly the expectations and R&R from each member.
  • Establish your leadership style , encourage collaboration
  • Ensure conflicts are resolved immediately and the team does not slip back to the storming stage
  • Do a continuous dip stick on what is happening behind the scenes. Have your informers.

Performing

In the performing stage things are well established and the team has matured into a strong cohesive set of people. They are able to resolve most of the conflicts at their level and all of them get aligned to the team goals and larger vision. The team performance is at its peak at this stage. Leaders are established and people understand “who is who”

Managers’s  Role

  • Work towards keeping the team moral high
  • Understand and use your organizations’ rewards and recognition mechanism
  • Be sure to reward good leadership behaviors and encourage peer recognition
  • Pass regular feedback and handle poor performance

Adjourning

In the adjourning stage, most of the team’s objectives have been accomplished. The team works towards closure of the tasks and final documentation. Members might move to a new project with new team members . At this stage the new team might get started all the way from the forming staging.

Managers’s  Role

  • Make sure project closure is done formally and completely
  • Keep you connections with your teams , a manager must always keep an eye for high performers and must be able to attract them to his team
  • Do not forget any final rewards and recognition

Team Performance Chart Through The Stages

team performance chart

5 Dysfunctions of a team

As we conclude this topic we strongly suggest every manager read the New York bestseller –
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team  by  Patrick Lencioni

In his book Patrick covers the important aspects of team dynamics. The five dysfunctions according him are

  • Absence of trust—unwilling to be vulnerable within the group
  • Fear of conflict—seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate
  • Lack of commitment—feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization
  • Avoidance of accountability—ducking the responsibility to call peers on counterproductive behavior which sets low standards
  • Inattention to results—focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success

If you have specific questions and/or you are  seeking guidance on a management problem or you want to find resources on a certain topic you can write to us at mymentor@globalmanagementmentors.com

5-effective-team-management-strategies-you-dont-find-in-books

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The authors are senior managers at startups and product development companies. They come with extensive experience in leadership and management of global engineering teams to deliver high quality software products. Each of them are extremely passionate about these topics . They mentor and train project managers on leadership and management.

4 Comments

  1. Arun Sabharwal

    Thanks for writing so informative article for the managers.
    I feel one should not get annoyed with the fact that members are not pulling together.
    One Must
    1. Identify the clear Goal
    2. Plan a strategy to achieve that goal.
    The team may perform better if they are well informed about a clear goal and you should advise them to come up with a strategy.
    You may then like to split sub-groups and ask each sub-group to come up with a solution.
    As a leader, You can assess all the solutions to pick the most appropriate.
    It is much more motivational for tall of them to be engaged in this way and they will come with a solution may be better that you as an individual.
    Well said- ” Leader should keep their ego away.
    I would definitely like to read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni whenever I get time.

    • admin

      Thanks for your comments Arun. Yes I agree with your comment on the importance of clear goal setting and I like your idea about breaking up into sub groups to come up with a solution. This way we will be able to get multiple view points . Can’t agree more on these points.

  2. Martine

    Really useful information. I’d be interested as to how to address the dysfunctional aspects too. Thanks

    • admin

      Thank you Martine for the comments. The book on Dysfunctions is a good read !

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