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How do you make the transition from managing a small team of specialists, two or three perhaps, to taking over the leadership of a larger team of multiple specialisms? This is a step that many managers will have to take at some point in their careers and it can prove challenging.
A small team can be relatively easy to manage as there are usually shared goals and objectives and a smaller demand on the manager to take the helm. Where a whole department or large team needs leadership there is a much bigger demand placed on the manager and the management style and priorities need to adapt.
This increase in headcount, scope and responsibility can be daunting but providing you keep some key principles in mind, it is eminently achievable. Here are our key tips for managing a large team.
Your most important professional relationships as leader of a large team are those you build with your direct reports or your management team. They are the ones who you will be in contact with most and the team that will be putting your strategy into action. They act as your conduit to the rest of the team but it is important that you don’t stop working on relationships there. All of you team down to the execs and assistants are valuable assets and should be treated as such. As the team leader, you should show that you are invested in them and their work and endeavour to build some sort of working relationship. This is not to say that you have to befriend every single team member, but make an effort to build some rapport and show that you understand their role in the team. This will go a long way in ensuring that everyone is invested in what you are trying to do and pulling in the same direction.
As mentioned above, your management team will be responsible for enacting your strategy and is your voice when projects are underway. It is crucially important that you build those strong relationships but also that you are empowering this team to excel and have confidence in themselves. You should be encouraging them to be decision-makers in their own right and to take ownership of projects. They are likely to be closer to the day-to-day operations of your set up and should be well placed to do so. However, this also helps them to boost their standing as managers in their own right. A motivated, respected and empowered management team can be your greatest asset as the leader of a large team.
Communication is perhaps the most important thing to get right in any business. As a manager, and in particular one in charge of a large team, it is absolutely vital that you establish clear communication channels within your teams. The key question to ask yourself is, how you can most effectively communicate with your team, and how your team can most effectively communicate with each other? This will depend on the type of work you do and how the team is made up. It may be that a communication tool such as Yammer or Skype is the best approach. Alternatively, it may be that regular face-to-face meetings are the right way to go. You need to work out what works best and implement your solution.
Now that you are managing a larger team, your time and resources are likely to be stretched fairly thin. You are responsible for a large group of people and projects, each with their own set of priorities - it can be hard to juggle. Be willing to delegate tasks to members of your team that are capable, and have the time and space, to absorb them. On the one hand, this will afford you more time to focus on other priorities but it will also give those employees the opportunity to take on high-level tasks and to improve their skill sets. A vital part of management is empowering your direct reports and helping them to progress themselves. Delegating the right tasks to the right people can help with this.
Any manager should be open to feedback, both from those at the top and those who report in. It is a vital part of professional improvement and this does not stop when you reach these upper management positions. While you are unlikely to be offering an open forum for everyone under your remit to be putting forward their criticisms, it is important to be open to feedback. A good approach is to use your management team or team-leaders to act as information gatherers and also to encourage them to be honest with their opinions.
If you are seen to be open to feedback and willing to implement improvements it can win you a lot of respect among your team. If you would like more tips on developing your team, browse all of our management advice. Alternatively, if you are looking to hire new talent, why not get in touch with your local Michael Page office or submit a job spec today?
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