Today’s lean, hectic project environments often allow little opportunity for leaders to stay in close touch with team members. Yet keeping close tabs on the progress of the work and condition of the team is more important than ever. Cover these bases to build and maintain a top-flight, high-output team.
Keep lines of communication flat and open. There is no need to ritualize or exaggerate hierarchy, so let team members know that their leader is also on the team. Everybody’s fortunes rise and fall together. And, for ideas to flow, everyone must talk freely to everyone else, so team leaders need to be approachable and available. Maintain frequent face-to-face sessions, and keep people in touch by providing multiple options for both public and private communication.
Commit to Transparency
Value transparency and authenticity. No one feels secure, happy, and creative on a team dominated by hidden political and personal agendas. Team members need an honest take on what is going on, and leaders are responsible for ensuring that happens. Everybody should know what decisions are being made and why. Team members also need the freedom to speak their minds without dissimulating or sugar-coating, and in confidence that their input will be heard and valued rather than making them the target of retribution.
Support collaboration in all forms. By definition, a team works together. Members must know their own roles well and have more than passing familiarity with every other role. No one is exempt from the requirement to pitch in wherever and whenever needed, and all contributions have value. Along with formal or designated efforts, casual and incidental collaboration should be encouraged. Sometimes, fresh eyes bring random, out-of-the-box ideas that end up having real legs. Provide your team with tools like those on timewax.co.uk that let them share and work on ideas broadly and easily.
Facilitate feedback. Along the same lines, make sure everyone knows that feedback of all types is always welcome. Feedback is a key component of collaboration, and has immense value. Be sure team members are ready and willing to give and receive in a spirit of mutual benefit and trust. No matter what needs to be said, the bottom line is everyone looks out for each other and works for the best outcome.
Trust is crucial – call it the “T” in team. As a leader, reinforce the idea that team members have each other’s backs first and foremost. There is no place for playing favorites, forming cliques, backstabbing, blame-placing, or evading accountability. Trust rises out of integrity, consistency, and dependability on your part as a leader. Two factors that contribute most to developing trust are time and familiarity. Time passes as it will, but leaders need to find and implement strategies to support the development of familiarity and bonding among team members.
You bring the odds of success solidly in your favor by making it easy for team members to stay in touch, work together, share output, and exchange feedback. Leveraging a modern project management toolset is an easy way to do so, and is an option that every team leader should consider.