11 Team Management Skills You Need To Lead Your Team

Did you know? Employees who are dissatisfied with their manager’s performance are four times as likely to be job hunting.

Your business can’t afford constant turnover, and it shouldn’t have to. Try these 11 team management skills you’ll need to thrive as a manager:

1. Vision

Leaders often have the best intentions, but they get caught up in managing the day-to-day tasks—putting out fires instead of working to unite their people under a shared vision.

Lack of direction leaves team members feeling confused about purpose. They know they’re working hard, but it’s difficult for them to see their impact. They don’t know which initiatives to prioritize. As a leader, you not only need a clear vision, but you also need to communicate it well.

How to get it:

If you’re struggling to create and communicate your long-term vision, step back and think about what that vision is.

If you’re in middle management, meet with the people above you to help you understand big picture goals. If you’re on top, step back and write down a plan. Too many leaders fly by the seat of their pants without assessing goals on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis.

2. Effective communication

Employee communication is the keystone of effective leadership. At its core, communication is about expressing yourself so that the things you think and the things you say are closely aligned. You need to communicate:

  • Priorities
  • Long-term goals
  • Gratitude
  • Strategy and executional information

How to get it:

Work to understand your employees’ different communication styles. That way, you’ll be able to tailor your own communication in the most effective manner.

Also, if you feel like you’re not a great communicator, try putting things in writing. Plan what you’re going to say before a meeting instead of winging it.

Related: 4 Management Styles To Lead Your Team: Which One Is For You?

3. Organization

When we think about being organized, we envision a clean workspace and color-coded post-it notes, but organization extends to executional items such as project timelines.

Organization is easy for some, impossible for others. Thankfully, there are resources specifically designed to help all of us improve. Check out this list of 22 helpful business tools to promote productivity and growth.

How to get it:

Struggling to keep things together? Papers flying everywhere? Email inbox overloaded? Sit down with a team member who is especially organized, and have them help you set up systems.

Once you have systems in place, you’ll be better able to stay organized and keep your team on the same page.

Organization tip:

Workplace apps are a great tool to organize your workflow. With When I Work, you can streamline your scheduling process, timesheets, time clock, and team messaging. Consider using the 14-day free trial to see how the app can improve your organization skills.

4. Functional skills

It’s hard to respect management who can’t get stuff done. Someone who can’t “do” is problematic—it’s like having a ship captain who never learned how to sail.

If a leader doesn’t have the skillset to understand the industry, and the ability to make things happen, they’re probably not a great leader. This doesn’t mean that leaders need to be knee-deep in the n8 Time Management Tools to Improve Your Work (and Your Sanity)itty-gritty; they simply need to effectively delegate and create timelines to ensure that goals are met.

How to get it:

Take a class on leadership and management, or other courses that focus on the functional skills you lack. Find an in-person class in your region or an online course that focuses on team leadership skills, such as delegation, difficult conversation, and project timelines.

Also read: 8 Time Management Tools to Improve Your Work (And Your Sanity)

5. Confidence

You’re the boss, so you can’t let yourself get used by your staff. Confidence is not just a trait, but a practiced skill. Confidence comes from knowing yourself well. If you understand your strengths, you can leverage them for success while leading and managing teams. You can be transparent with your team when it comes to your weaknesses, asking for help so you can move along.

How to get it:

Take a personality test like Myers-Briggs or DISC assessments. These may help you understand your strengths and weaknesses in an objective way. It’s also a good idea to try things outside your comfort zone. If you’re a quiet person, take an improv class. If you’re loud, meditate.

6. Fairness

Nothing frustrates employees more than blatant favoritism. Sure, there will be members of your team that you like more than others, but expressing your true feelings is poison to a team who has to come together. Favoritism is juvenile, and it can kill the morale on a team.

How to get it:

If you really favor some team members more than others, you need to create boundaries to put your professionalism in check. When you go out to lunch, invite everyone. As a manager, you need to make professional friends and contacts, not BFFs.

7. Respect

Being a good leader doesn’t mean getting everyone to unanimously nod their heads every time you open your mouth. Disagreements are inevitable, but a good leader can treat others with respect and kindness, no matter the situation.

Ask your reports why they think what they think. Respect their opinions, even if you vehemently disagree. If they do something serious that needs to be addressed, practice effective employee discipline to work through the issue.

How to get it:

If you feel yourself getting worked up in a meeting, take a deep breath, walk out the door, and take a break. Time will calm you down so that when you do discuss hot button issues, you can do so with respect.

8. Adaptability

Change is the only constant in our lives, and teams look to their leaders when the seas get stormy and the caves get dark. As a leader, you have to adapt and take changes in stride, thriving in transition. Adaptability is one of the necessary skills to lead a team.

How to get it:

When changes come, force yourself to be optimistic, even if you’re worried. Connect with the right people, but be honest about your skepticism, and be ready to change how you go about things. When someone suggests leading meetings in a new way, don’t balk. Carefully consider why you feel the way you do, and be open-minded about a new way of doing things.

9. Ability to think strategically

It’s frustrating to work at a place where the leaders take on itty-bitty projects without a lot of strategy. We look to leaders for guidance on everything, and when we feel that they’re not being deliberate, we panic.

Basically, people want to understand how you’re going to accomplish company goals. You must be able to think and act strategically in order to be successful as a leader.

How to get it:

According to the Harvard Business Review, people lack strategy because they’re not taking the time to reflect. Build strategic time into your work day. You need time to reflect on situations so that you can connect ideas together to show your team you can make things happen.

10. Team orientation

Yes, you’re a leader, but you’re also part of the team. You have to think like a team member, and always put the team before your own needs. Sometimes that means taking flack for an employee’s mistake, or going to bat when a report asks for a promotion or more compensation.

How to get it:

Think of yourself as a team member before thinking of yourself as a leader. Be willing to do things you dislike for the sake of the team. Never act like you’re better than your team members just because you’re in a position of power.

11. Navigation of difficult conversations

Stressful conversations are inevitable. Laying someone off, talking about an issue that came up in the office, or critiquing bad performance—all of these cause a lot of stress.

Leaders are good at having these conversations. They can speak with grace, ask for input, and make people feel like they’re safe, even when the content is difficult.

How to get it:

Try reading Taking The Stress Out of Stressful Conversations by Holly Weeks from Harvard Business School. Holly outlines how to navigate the stormy territory of tough talk.

Also check out our article: How To Deliver Uncomfortable Employee Feedback

Tips to improve your team management skills

There are plenty of ways to improve your team management skills, if you invest the time and energy into doing what’s best for your team. Find the right way for you to learn the skills to lead a team by trying a few different resources and finding the best one for you.

  • Read management books—learn about the different styles of management and think about which one fits you best. Try a few strategies and keep what works.
  • Get a mentor—find a manager you respect and ask them to mentor you. You can get their feedback on different situations and they can help you address priorities. You’ll get the benefit of their experience.
  • Think about how you’d like to be managed—remember some of the best managers you had. What did they do that was most successful in managing you? What did you appreciate the most about them? 
  • Copy the styles you like best—you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. While you’re still figuring out your own team management style, try on everyone else’s. Remember to make sure the strategies fit together so your team isn’t left feeling confused about constant change.
  • Take a management class—get some hands-on experience with other managers. Classes will often involve exercises and role play, so you can get a feel for what different approaches feel like before you need to use them with your team.

Conclusion: Successfully leading and managing teams is possible with these skills

Being a manager is hard—there are so many necessary skills for managing a team. Thankfully, with a little bit of elbow grease, you’ll be able to work on these skills to become the best leader in your organization.

Article Image
/Human Resources

Employee Burnout: Causes, Signs, And Strategies

Article Image
/Business Growth

9 Strategies For Decreasing Labor Costs

Article Image
/Scheduling Strategy

Rotating Shifts: A Manager’s Guide to Rotating Schedules

Article Image
/Scheduling Strategy

How to Save Time And Money With Automatic Scheduling For Employees

Article Image
/Small Business Blog

40 Employee Appreciation Ideas Your Staff Will Love

Article Image
/Human Resources

How to Write Up an Employee in 8 Easy Steps