Running a team of employees is never an easy task. There are many variables to consider as well as personalities and expectations to contend with. However, there are many techniques and principles skilled leaders keep in mind when leading the way in their company and driving their team toward accomplishing their goals.
These are simple things, fundamental tenants which keep the team focused and the production flowing continually. Here’s a brief guide to a few things every successful team leader does and how you can implement them when you lead your employees.
- Know that deadlines are never concrete
- Get to your team and their strengths
- Hold meetings to check up on project statuses
Know Your Goals At The Outset
Great leaders know that all work is actionable and must be done efficiently. To do this, employees need to know when things need to be done in order to prioritize their workflow and stay focused at the current tasks at hand. Before you begin any project, assign roles to the group and make sure they know which tasks should be accomplished in what order.
Different projects call for different priorities but knowing both your end goal and the many smaller steps along the way will help your team organize and prepare themselves for both their current jobs and their future duties. These goals should be mostly short-term, as setting only goals in the long-term will lead to quick burnout and cloud your progress. Shorter goals help you keep track of where you are and where you’re going.
Know Your Team And Their Strengths
No matter which project you’re working on, either as a leader or a follower, you will be working with other people. If you want to finish with your project in a timely and productive manner, it’s essential to know your teammates and what each brings to the table. Different people are skilled in different ways and have different temperaments, approaching problems in different and often complex ways.
Knowing the ways in which your team works, which includes both how they work together and how they might start to unravel if given certain input, is a key step in leadership. Is your team more comfortable when you leave them be and allow them to work through problems as a group, or will they need your guidance more often than not? It’s okay if it’s the latter, as some groups simply need the proper guidance and input to do their best work.
Hold Frequent, But Short, Meetings
Another step in knowing how far along you are in the project trajectory is to hold meetings often and get updates from your team as to the status of their work. These meetings don’t need to be long; in fact, it’s better if they’re shorter and to the point so your team can stay focused for longer.
The point of the meetings, especially more frequent check-ins, is to assess the progress the team is making and ensure that they’re both meeting the requirements of the project and will be done within the time frame of the project.
You also need to tell the team where every member is in the process; for example, if one teammate is running behind or way ahead of schedule, this needs to be properly communicated so that the entire team is always on the same page.
Focus On Your Priorities And Know Your Role
Great leaders know to differentiate between the most essential components of a project and those which exist for bureaucratic effect. It’s your duty to decide if the minor tasks or instructions your team has been tasked with are actually beneficial to the team and the project as a whole or if they’re simply weighing down the process and holding your team back in terms of time and energy spent on their daily tasks.
In addition, you’re going to need to wear several hats throughout the course of the project’s completion. Sometimes you’ll need to jump in and participate and other times call for a restrained approach where you’re a bit more passive and omnipotent. Know when your presence is needed but allow your team to work within their own means and however they see fit for the duration of the project.
Sometimes You Just Need To Extend Deadlines
However much your team struggles, sometimes deadlines whoosh by at the speed of light. It’s important to understand that this is perfectly natural, and you shouldn’t hold any missed deadlines directly against your team in most instances. In fact, many leaders pad deadlines to relieve their team of stress and enforce the notion that the project’s quality is foremost.
Doing things quickly is always great but the work is mostly useless if it doesn’t stand up to rigorous scrutiny. Your team should never cut corners to make sure deadlines are met. If one part of the project is absolutely crucial, you may even bring the deadline forward a few days just to make sure that portion isn’t put off by the team. In short, deadlines are as important, and concrete, as you say they are.