Teamwork is critical for businesses in just about every industry, so it is likely that you will work as part of a team at some point in your career. Depending on your position within your organization, you may be called upon as a team leader as well. Here's what you need to know to keep your team members in line and ensure they follow your instructions willingly.
When you first form your team, you need to establish yourself as the leader right from the start. Make sure that you are well-prepared for your first meeting so you can drive discussions and answer your team's questions. Let your team know that you are available to help whenever they need. Remember, you are the guiding light for your team members throughout the project, so stay on top of your tasks so that you team can follow you.
Listen as Much as You Talk
Of course, you'll do plenty of talking as the team leader, but it is just as important that you listen to your team. Because they are the ones who will be doing most of the work as you manage, they can provide unique insight as to how the project is progressing and any trouble areas that might arise. Take your team's feedback to heart, but always keep your mind on the bigger picture as well. Your team members are each dealing with individual aspects of the project, and it is up to you to keep everyone on track towards your common goal.
Focus on the Business
While you may be able to choose the members of your team, this is not always the case, and you may be required to work with people with whom you don't necessarily get along as friends. Although it is difficult, do your best to set your personal feelings aside. Keep your focus on the task at hand. Even if you don't like a team member on a personal level, that doesn't mean that you can't still work successfully together.
Be Willing to Take the Blame
Just as the captain goes down with a sinking ship, you are the responsible party as the team leader. While it may be easier to place blame on your team members for any mishaps, at the end of the day, it is you who is responsible for the successful completion of the project. Your team looks to you for direction, so if something goes wrong, you need to take responsibility.
Practice What You Preach
No matter what type of project you are working on, you need to show your team that you are in it with them. No one likes to see their team leader sitting back while they do all the work, so you need to be working just as hard as your team members. At each meeting, review their progress, but also show them your progress. This way, they'll see that you are working just as hard as they are, encouraging them to work harder for you.
Managing a team is not easy, but with careful planning and preparation, as well as a good dose of respect for your team members, you can give yourself your best chance of delivering your project successfully.