How to Lead a Team as a First-Time Manager

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

It’s your first time leading a team and you are equally as excited as you are overwhelmed. You’ve earned this extra responsibility from all of your hard work and dedication to your company. Now, it’s your time to prove you make an excellent leader.

After the foundation of your project is laid out, including hosting your project kickoff and establishing a suitable project baseline, it is time to put your project management skills into practice by showing that you are a confident, competent leader capable of remaining on top of team task management. As a fresh new leader, there can be a lot of pressure on you to avoid letting your team down. The following are some pointers on how to succeed in leading a team as a first-time manager.

Communication And Team Task Management

Listen, Listen, Listen

When it comes to active listening skills, most of us have room for improvement. There is no shame in asking for elaboration or clarification on ambiguous topics. Still, sometimes the need to repeat information can be avoided through active listening, which means giving your undivided attention to the listener. This will also make your teammates feel valued and respected, resulting in a more productive team. A simple step towards becoming a better active listener is removing all distractions by turning your cellphone off or storing away your laptop.

Recognize Different Communication Styles

We all learn best through different methods and communicating is no different. As a leader, you cannot assume that all teammates communicate in the same way you do. Ask your teammates individually about their communication style, how they prefer to receive and give communication — and then accommodate that style. This will show that you are not only invested in the success of the team, but that you’re also invested in each teammate individually.

Feedback

Use and Welcome Constructive Feedback

All teams should be built on a foundation of trust, and trust cannot exist without valuing all team members’ opinions. You want your teammates to feel confident that their feedback will be heard and taken into account. To foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable, heard and motivated, welcome and encourage constructive feedback.

Don’t Forget About Negative Feedback

Don’t shy away from providing constructive criticism, because it is just as valuable as providing positive feedback. Give as much feedback as possible so that your team adjusts to receiving regular feedback. The purpose of feedback is not to desensitize them to your opinion. Instead, it is meant to drive them towards improvement. Ultimately, they should recognize that the feedback is in the team’s best interests as well as their own.

Consistency

A Consistent Schedule

Project managers should be scheduling regular group sessions and one-on-one sessions. Individual sessions create a safe atmosphere for individuals to share concerns or updates they perhaps did not feel comfortable sharing in a group. Since these individual sessions are equally as important as group brainstorming sessions, it is crucial to be consistent in these meetings and to find the time for you and the teammate to meet regularly. This can be weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, so that they will not feel left behind if they experience social or peer pressure in a group setting.

A Consistent Attitude

To put it simply, a good leader has a good attitude. A leader who demonstrates effective team task management is consistent in their behavior. Without a consistent leader, priorities and commitment become unclear, and teammates will lose faith in the project. Your teammates must know you are committed to the project and that you are trustworthy. After all, without the team on board, there is no project.

Finally, there are a few mistakes to be aware of that first-time managers often make.

Get Off Of Your High Horse

Just because you have been entrusted with the role of manager does not mean you hold all of the knowledge. In fact, some teammates might be more knowledgeable about certain topics, especially if it is their specialization. Do not be stubborn with your opinions. Openly listen to what others have to say and use their input accordingly.

Quality Over Speed

As a project manager, you are keen to impress by staying on top of all your deadlines and meeting your team task management goals. But don’t let deadlines take away from the quality of your work. At the end of the day, the output is all that matters. If something requires extra attention, recognize that and allow extra time to handle it. That one deadline you missed won’t be remembered if your final work meets or exceeds expectations. After all, you are the manager, so trust yourself — and others will trust you.

Keep It Professional

Of course, you will want to be friendly with your teammates to get them on your good side. While it is important to have a strong relationship with your team, avoid getting too friendly. The last thing you want is for teammates to be dropping the ball on you, missing deadlines or submitting lazy work because they feel that you two will be able to joke about it later. Establish clear boundaries from the start and earn respect and trust from your team that way.

Now you’re prepared to step into your new role as a project manager by knowing what you should be aiming for when leading a team, and what mistakes first-time leaders often make that should be avoided. By following the above tips, notably by leading with empathy and using open communication, you will be sure to thrive and evolve into the leader you were meant to be.

In order to create a consistent schedule that works both for you and your team, you can use time management software to assess your team’s time efficiency. actiTIME draws your attention to details that might otherwise be overlooked, such as wasted time on unproductive meetings. The software can help you determine how frequently your team should really be getting together to discuss updates and concerns. actiTIME is the perfect tool to have at your side for your first time as a project manager.

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