Smart working development teams are getting constant praise for their outstanding results. What’s the secret of their success, besides the fact that they are groups of highly skilled engineering professionals? Well, it’s up to managers’ organizational skills to make great results happen. To this end, here’s a brief list of the most important dos and don’ts when managing a smart team.
Set the right goals
Your smart team needs to have a clear goal or goals in front of them in order to do their best. You can set up the objective on your own or consult the team and define it in a way that’s easy to comprehend.
A good goal should be logical, straightforward, and meaningful. Each team member should always understand why the goal is important, i.e., what they’ll accomplish with their efforts and how their work is important for success.
A proper smart goal is also trackable and actionable. That means monitoring the team’s progress via noticeable results is easy. As for actionable — a smart team is always up for a challenge. Otherwise, they may lack motivation. Make sure the set goal is going to inspire a competitive edge.
Diversity doesn’t only refer to promoting diverse and inclusive culture, though it’s very important to nurture it. What I have in mind here refers to cognitive diversity. Your team must consist of people who are distinctive individuals with different thought processes and patterns yet able to work in unity.
That’s certainly a challenging task for any team manager. You need to gather around a group of people with different ways of thinking who can complement one another. A list of qualifications can help you with this, but you’ll also need some help from HR to properly balance your team with the right mix of hard and soft skills.
Whether your team is entirely in-house and working from an office or you have colleagues working remotely, communication is still the key to success. That’s why you need to decide on your preferred means of communication and define an overall process to keep everyone in the loop.
On one hand, you have to pick the right tools to keep everyone in touch. There isn’t a unique combo when it comes to communication tools but rather a set of popular alternatives that can empower any team, including email platforms, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. It’ll be up to you and your team to define which of these is best for you.
But tools are just a part of the communication issue. You’ll also have to come up with a communication strategy to govern all your communication instances. This implies defining proper communication etiquette and procedures as well as determining boundaries and expectations regarding communication.
In my experience, it’s always best to create a flexible communication scheme that reinforces each message through multiple channels. Yes, you might end up “overcommunicating” certain things, but you’ll make sure that everyone knows what you want everyone to know.
Set up team agreements
Team agreements or team charters are the peaks of coordination. For a smart team to work with minimum stress and be able to replace each other in time, they need to have the corresponding schedule. The team lead should recognize the working patterns and introduce them to the team. That way, it’ll be easy to notice when they need to replace someone and how to do it. Thus, the whole system remains stable if one or a couple of colleagues take days off — all thanks to the right team agreement.
Allow for flexibility and encourage free time
Truth be told, every job brings a decent amount of stress. In today’s modern day and age, why would one increase it even more when you can avoid it? Should your employee wish to work remotely and enjoy more family time or avoid commuting, let them. Provided they meet the set obligations and deadlines, you should grant your team members the right to work remotely to reap its benefits. Focus on results and quality of work, not how much time employees spend at the physical office.
Aside from this, you can show flexibility in approving vacations or days off. Your employees shouldn’t feel pressured to work extra hours or as if they have no right to days off just because they’re in the middle of a project. After all, some projects are never-ending — just think of the cybersecurity processes.
Showing appreciation is another aspect of communication, but we’re keeping it in a separate section due to its importance.
There are many ways to say:
“I appreciate you!”
“This is some awesome work!”
“I’m so glad you’re a part of this team!” and so on.
Employees must get well-deserved praise before quarterly reports on their actions and behavior. You should even aim to deliver the kudos on a daily basis — every time there’s a good opportunity, and these probably abound.
Not only will your team members feel respected and wish to remain in the company, but you’ll probably inspire them to give more compliments to one another, thus boosting the team spirit even more.
Develop team identity
A smart team lead helps the team create its own identity in several ways. This will help your workers feel connected while also inspiring them to work harder towards the common goal.
So, how can you work on building team identity?
One of the most obvious solutions is team building activities (regardless of if the smart team is remote or not). Besides sports or work-related activities, you could also choose to support a charity as a team.
Moreover, there are plenty of daily actions that bring the group together, such as:
- Showing and encouraging team support
- Setting up diverse communication channels
- Organizing regular calls or conferences
- Praising innovation and sharing ideas
- Emphasizing team results to promote a sense of pride and belonging
Lead by example
Finally, all of the above is easier to achieve if you lead by example. A team lead or manager is also a part of the team, only in a more prominent position. Therefore, people look up to them for inspiration.
For example, if you wish to improve communication, you should be the one starting or organizing the conversation, and eventually, your team will pick up the skills. How can you inspire team members to praise one another? By doing so yourself, of course. Remember that you, too, are entitled to days off. Avoid employee burnout by applying various techniques yourself.
Lead the way, and your smart team will follow!