OUTLOOK — By Salim Al Riyami — It may be true that leaders are born and not created — but it may be debatable as well! However, everyone has the potential and ability to be an effective team leader. Managing a team is a skill and a style that can be mastered — and managers can do it easily enough, if they have an open mind and hold no prejudices towards anyone.
Here are some tips to handling your team and winning them over to work and a winning attitude:
• Don’t play favourites: This is one of the most frustrating prejudices that most team members face — a boss who plays the favouritism game. I remember when I first entered the labour market; I met a manager who openly used to treat one employee better than the rest, used to give him excellent ratings in his annual performance appraisal and always praised him in front of others. Fighting the prejudices of such a manager is usually an impossible situation for team members and highly de-motivating. Team dynamics will suffer if certain individuals always get preferential treatment. As a team manager you need to ensure you have no favourites. Personal likes and dislikes must be kept out of the purview of daily work. You are bound to lose a lot of good employees if you play this game.
• Give credit where due: As an effective manager always acknowledge the good work done by an employee and be sure to give credit to the person directly responsible for the work. However, on the contrary, some managers ignore the employee, or just tell him/her “It is your job to produce quality work”, and some managers even take the credits for themselves. At a senior level you may interact only with managers, but when you are really pleased with some work done, be sure you include the juniors who were involved with the implementation, in your accolades. A quick e-mail or few words of praise will go a long way in boosting the morale of employees and establishing you as a manager who appreciates employees for their hard work.
• Let employees make mistakes: Give your team members the freedom to take their own decisions and manage things. Never be afraid to give responsibility to your team — only when you repose confidence in their abilities will they be encouraged to meet your expectations and push themselves to greater heights. Of course, your guidance and support is important and you need to be there to help them learn from their mistakes in case things don’t work out. In Arabic, there is a quote that translates as follows: “The leader of the people is the one who serve them”.
• Be aware of your people: As a team manager you need to be aware of your team’s strengths and weaknesses and be sure to highlight individual strengths to your own seniors, but some managers do not do this, as they are afraid of losing their seats! A manager needs to ensure that supervisors are informed and kept aware of the team’s progress and achievements, as also any problem areas the team per se may be facing. This projects you as a capable leader in the eyes of the team, as they can be assured that with you as the leader they would be taken care of and need only focus on giving their best at work.
• Set processes: Once you have a motivated team ready to give their best, make sure processes are as streamlined as possible for smooth functioning and the team is given a certain standard to maintain. As a good manager you should view things at a strategic level and find ways to improve processes and procedures so that your team can perform more efficiently.
• Look at the big picture: Align team goals with organisational goals: Finally as an effective team manager it is important for you to give the right direction to your team and be sure that your team goals are aligned with company goals. For example, if the company is in cost-cutting mode, be sure your team is implementing this in all possible ways.
It is important for you as a manager to have a team consensus on all organisational issues and if you have effectively managed the above six steps, you will have a team that is willing to co-operate and be led by you.