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Managing Teams 

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Managing Teams

By Catherine Kitcho

Any new enterprise or product effort requires that people work together as a team. Entrepreneurs claim to "wear all the hats", but eventually get to the point where they must depend on others in order to conduct business and get the product out the door.

Managing people does not come naturally to everyone. It is an acquired skill that comes with experience.

COMMUNICATION is the most essential skill in managing teams of people. That does not mean continuous meetings 10 hours a day, but it does mean frequent, regular interchange - 2-WAY CONVERSATIONS - so that valuable information can be transmitted and understood. Listening is more important than talking in this interchange.

MOTIVATION is also required so that people will get work done and meet business goals. Everyone is an individual when it comes to motivation. People are motivated by different things, and there are no general rules of thumb that apply to everyone. Many surveys have been done to identify the most common motivational factors, and the conclusion is that most people want to do a good job and are to some degree "self-motivated". Other common factors are recognition, doing enjoyable work, attention, challenging work, work environment, and financial reward. As a leader of a team of individuals, one of the best things you can do is respect each person as an individual, and recognize them often. A simple "thank you" goes a long way.

WORK ENVIRONMENT is important so that people feel comfortable and can be productive. A balance between open communication and some degree of privacy should be the goal. In cubicle and open work space environments, this is much more difficult, and you may not have any control over the way the facility is arranged and furnished. However, you can make sure that you and the team respect a person's desire to have uninterrupted time to focus on work. You can also minimize "hallway discussions" in order to provide a quieter work environment.

PERSONALITIES unfortunately come into play in the office environment. Most people have one or two individuals that they just don't get along with. If you know that two individuals have a clash of personalities and they must work together on a team, sit down with them and find a way they can work together. It does not mean they have to like each other, they merely need to work together so that they don't disrupt the work of the rest of the team.

Managing people is hard work, but it may be some of the most important work you ever do in your enterprise. It's well worth the time and attention.

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