Being the leader of a team is a tough job. To step into that role can be a major departure from what you’re used to — and what you’re good at. An exceptional worker does not necessarily make an exceptional boss. However, like anything, leading is a skill that can be learned. We’ve put together a little list that will help novice bosses out there find the right track when it comes to management.
1. Be realistic
Some managers think they need to set unreasonably high targets in order to get the most out of their team — this is a mistake. Your team won’t respect you if you place undue amounts of pressure on them to achieve what you all know is an unattainable goal. If their targets are always out of reach then they’ll constantly have a sense of dissatisfaction in their job, resulting in employees leaving for greener pastures sooner rather than later.
Start by establishing what you can reasonably ask of your team and work from there.
2. Lead by example
A good boss doesn’t just offload all their duties onto their staff, they take their fair share of the load. If you want your team to follow you and to achieve great things, they need to know you work even harder than they are. This is central to earning their respect.
You need to be actively involved, be the driving force in the accomplishment of tasks, don’t break promises and stand up for your team. They need to see that you’re working with them.
3. Connect with your team
You can’t be a stranger to the people you manage and expect them to have any loyalty to you. You need to nurture connections with the team, build a rapport, if they’re going to go that extra mile for you. Each and every person on your team is motivated differently and has a preferred method of working, so find out what that is and use it to make their job better.
The easiest step in maintaining these relationships is making one-on-one meetings a regular occurrence in your week.
4. Make time to lead
In your zeal to lead by example and be the hardest working member of the team, you may lose sight of the fact that you need to spare some time to actually lead. The fact of the matter is that there are little acts of leadership that might not seem that productive but which actually make the ship run so much smoother than it’s more efficient to prioritise doing them, things like holding one-on-ones, sorting out the team’s holidays, and making sure workplace facilities are in tip-top shape. You need to make the time to facilitate the productivity of your staff. Which leads us to our next point.
5. Delegate to the best people
You can’t be an effective leader if you take too much upon yourself. You need to be the one who perceives all the moving parts in order to see what’s working and what’s not, if things are going to operate smoothly. If you’re maintaining relationships with your team then you’ll know who is the strongest to take on a particular task, or who stands to benefit most by taking on a new challenge.
If done effectively you’ll make everyone’s life easier.
6. Make decisions carefully and stick to them
The most difficult part of the job is making the unpopular choices, but sometimes it just can’t be avoided. Once you’ve explored all your options carefully, and you’re sure there is no alternative, be decisive and firm in the action you take.
If a tough call has to be made, it will only be made worse by dragging it out.
7. Reward success
A good boss will inspire and motivate their team, so when they go above and beyond the call of duty they must know that their successes will be rewarded. It might be with a bonus, some time off or with a few simple words of acknowledgement, but just showing your staff that their work hasn’t gone unnoticed will make a huge difference to them.
8. Deal with conflict
In an office environment, tension between colleagues can be absolutely toxic to productivity. If co-workers avoid working with one another or try to minimise their interactions, the ripple effect spreads can spread to the entire team.
A good leader can’t afford to ignore these situations, they need to recognise these inevitable fractures and lead diplomatic negotiations in order to mend the bridges between the two disgruntled parties.
9. Communication is key
Your position may make you feel isolated, but you need to communicate with your team. Of course there will always be sensitive information that you can’t share with the whole team, but do try to share as much as you can. It’s a simple way to show that you really are all in this together and that you value their contribution.
You should always aim for transparency and clarity in all your dealings with your staff and keep them in the loop — they’ll thank you for it.