Leading a team is quite a journey, with lots to think about – projects, strategies, tasks, deadlines, profitability and more.
Before creating and managing those groundbreaking strategies for your team, think about what team management skills a manager should have to bring those projects to life. Without complications, in a pleasant atmosphere, and with everyone on board through the whole process.
Today, we’re going to show you which skills you need for effective team management and how to get better at them.
What is team management?
Team management is when someone in charge, a team leader or manager, helps a group of people work together to achieve a common goal.
Managers do their best to make everyone know what they should do and solve any problems that come up. They also try to listen to everyone and make team members feel appreciated.
Don’t confuse it with project management, though.
It’s a bit different. Project management is more about planning and finishing a specific task or project. Setting deadlines, figuring out how much money is needed, and making sure the project does what it's supposed to do – that's what it is.
A project manager might also lead a team, but their main job is to help the project succeed, not just to look after the team.
Team management ➡️ focus on people
Project management ➡️ focus on the project
Both of them require communication skills, but today, we’re going to focus on team management skills a manager should have. Or at least work on them as much as they can.
Team management skills
The list is long, but here are the most important skills each team manager needs to master. No matter what management style they have.
#1 Amazing communication skills
Without outstanding communication skills, a manager can't effectively lead their team.
What’s more, they need to stay connected with C-level and the team at the same time, communicating with them on a daily basis. Both these groups consist of different people. Sometimes, they require different approaches, so a manager needs to be flexible in that matter.
There’s a meeting on a new website design project, which is behind schedule. Each team member shares their concerns. Some are unclear about the project's theme, others about their specific tasks.
The manager listens and clarifies everyone's roles and the project timeline. They also adjust the workload to make it more balanced. Also, a manager talks to each member about their role and discusses their responsibilities.
📉 97% of employees believe communication contributes to task effectiveness.
#2 Time management skills
Using time well means less pressure on your team. To do it, managers can take advantage of different tools. One of the best ones is Unrubble.
With Unrubble's tools, a team's work becomes more organized, time is used efficiently, and everyone learns to manage their time better.
More productivity and less stress are the big wins here. All thanks to:
- Time tracking – lets a manager see how long different tasks take. Knowing this, managers and team members can plan better and adjust their tasks as needed.
- Scheduling – helps make clear plans for what the team needs to do and when. Everyone knows their responsibilities and deadlines.
- The PTO tracker – keeps an eye on team members' days off. You’re sure there are always enough hands on deck.
- Timesheets – give a quick overview of how each person spends their time on various tasks. A manager can use this information to make sure the team is progressing as expected.
Let's say a team is working on a big project with tight deadlines. The manager notices that some tasks are taking longer than expected, making it hard to keep on schedule. They then decided to use Unrubble's time tracking and scheduling tools.
Then, they know exactly where the team is spending most of their time and adjust the workload.
📉 Employees spend around 80% of the workday doing unimportant tasks.
#3 Ability to give and receive feedback
A team manager must know how to talk to people about their successes and also about their failures. This is one of the core skills you need to manage your team well.
When a manager talks to team members about what they're doing well, it makes them feel good and motivates them to keep doing a great job. But the same goes for things that didn't go so well.
A key component of soft skills is dealing with people in a kind and understanding way.
But there are two sides of the coin. A manager needs to be ready to receive feedback as well. They need to listen to what team members say about how the team is doing and what could be better.
The feedback system, where team members regularly can asses their work, may build trust and make the performance of the team way better.
This is because everyone gets a chance to speak up and share their ideas. It’s not only the manager that do the talking. Everyone can be involved.
A team is working on a new marketing campaign. After a big presentation, the manager gathers the team for feedback. They start by praising specific team members for their creative ideas and hard work, which makes them feel appreciated and motivated.
Then, the manager gently discusses areas where things didn't go as planned, like the timing of the campaign launch. They open the floor for everyone to share their thoughts and suggestions. The text marketing campaign goes much more smoothly because there are no repeating mistakes.
📉 Over 75% of respondents believe feedback is valuable.
#4 Delegation skills
Delegation isn't just handing out jobs. Managers should know to share tasks among their team in a way that supports them.
How to do it?
Think about who on the team is best for each task. Review the performance data, go through the notes from the feedback sessions, and talk with them.
Communication skills are needed here again. But not only that. Good delegation also involves interpersonal skills. You ought to understand your team members, what they're good at, and what they want to learn.
So, get to know their strengths and give them tasks that match them.
On top of that, by delegating tasks, you're also showing trust in your team. It’s like saying, "I believe you can do this," but without using the words.
A manager has a new project and needs to assign tasks. They look at past performance data and remember what team members said they're good at in feedback sessions.
As tasks are matched to the right people, the project progresses more efficiently. Everyone does what they enjoy and is good at.
📉 Research proves that delegation can make people more satisfied at work because it gives them more control and interesting tasks.
#4 Decision-making skills
Making strategic decisions well is something that distinguishes the best managers from the average ones.
And here, the important element is communicating with your team. The best managers don't make decisions without consulting others. Try to get different views and figure out the whole team's perspective and the team dynamic.
Balance different needs and opinions and keep your team on track.
With such an approach, managers can make choices that everyone in the team can agree with and support.
A software team's manager faces a tough choice: rush to meet the app launch deadline or delay it for better quality. They gather the team to discuss. Some team members worry about overwork, others about the app's quality.
After listening to everyone, the manager decides to delay the launch. It may balance the team's workload with the goal of a high-quality app. The team feels heard and supports the decision, knowing it's best for both them and the app.
📉 In the C-suite, 14% of respondents say that decision-making takes up more than 70 percent of their time.
#5 Problem-solving skills
It is figuring out how to get through tough situations or fix things that aren't working right. Easier said than done, though.
A manager with good problem-solving skills supports their team work through challenges, whether it's by changing the team's approach, helping team members work better together, or finding new ways to reach team goals.
There’s more – a successful team manager prevents issues before they happen through careful planning and clear communication. But they can do even more than that.
The manager who does not play solo, but instructs their team in how to deal with issues together, can build the team's capability to tackle future challenges on their own.
There are some struggles with project deadlines in a team. Instead of just pushing team members harder, a manager calls a meeting to figure out what's wrong. They discover communication problems, and unclear roles are causing delays.
Together, they work out a better communication system and clear up everyone's roles.
📉 45% of employers said managers need to work on problem solving
#6 Being transparent
No honesty, no trust.
When you manage a team, it's important to tell the truth, even if it's hard. It builds a strong team management foundation.
By being clear about what's going on, what the team needs to do, and why certain decisions are made, you show your team that they can trust you.
On top of that, whenever team members get the whole story, they are more likely to trust their manager and feel secure in their roles. So, it may also influence their confidence in their job, which may further translate into better team performance.
Only one thing, but can change a lot.
Budget cuts are coming. A manager, instead of hiding it, decides to be upfront. In a team meeting, they explain the situation, how it impacts the team, and the changes they'll have to make.
This is hard news, but the manager gains the team's trust. The team members feel more secure knowing what's happening and why.
📉 In the United States, only 21% of employees trust their leaders.
#7 Setting clear goals
Effective team management involves setting a goal for the team to finish a project by a certain date or to improve a certain skill. But it’s not the end. Setting goals is one, but setting clear goals matters even more.
Always check if they’re SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
What’s more, achieving goals together is great for team building. When the whole team is working towards the same targets, it brings them closer together. They share a common purpose and can support each other to reach it.
The goal is to boost sales by 15% in the next quarter. A manager specifies the target, using the SMART method:
- specific (15% increase, from $100,000 to $115,000),
- measurable (using sales data),
- achievable (considering the team previously achieved a 10% growth in a similar timeframe),
- relevant (aligns with the company's strategy to grow its revenue by 20% this year),
- and time-bound (one quarter).
#8 Motivating your team
Each person in the team has different things that make them want to work hard and do well.
As a manager, it’s best to figure out what these things are for everyone, especially when managing a remote team. In that case, it’s a bit harder to feel connected. Here are the tips that'll help you manage a remote team.
Support your team in ways that matter to them. This could mean giving the right tools for the job, giving helpful feedback, or celebrating when they do something great. You, or rather, they name it.
The manager introduces 'Kudos Friday' for the team to celebrate each other's weekly achievements. They also organize monthly virtual team lunches for informal bonding and try to negotiate the budget for pay raises for best-performing employees.
📉 In 2022, 21% of remote workers struggled with a lack of motivation.
Conclusion on effective team management skills
Some skills overlap. For example, there’s no good problem-solving without effective communication. Or it is hard to motivate your team without setting a clear goal. The skills are enlisted one by one, but it’s better to treat them as a package rather than separate entities.
It all might be a bit overwhelming, but luckily, there are tools to help! Sign up for Unrubble and master time management in your team.