Keeping a team performing at their optimal level, enjoying what they do, and enthusiastically contributing to the growth of the business is not easy.
For over 15 years now, I have managed local and virtual teams – and struggled with all the pains that team managers, directors of operations, office managers, and team leads experience.
The good news is that if YOU shift to a more proactive mindset, things will work more effectively and your team will be happier.
Tip #1: Create A Process Driven Environment
Be proactive on processes. Creating an environment that encourages, expects, and rewards all tasks to be process driven is critical. Processes are the lifeblood of your business and preserve your ability to provide excellent products or services day in and day out.
If everyone on a car assembly line did their part of the production process in their own way, the car at the end of the line would likely be a pile of unusable metal with no hope of driving off the showroom floor.
Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, layout, processes, and procedures. – Tom Peters
Taking the time to create and agree upon processes will:
- Make sure expectations are clear.
- Ensure tasks are done consistently and accurately.
- Allow team members to “stand in” for each other and prevent downtime during vacations or sickness.
- Reduce the amount of time a task takes by putting the information someone needs at his or her own fingertips.
Put these processes in a Standard Operating Procedure Guide. This doesn’t have to be a printed book or be a fancy software program. Using folders on a shared drive and linking a master document to each of the processes is adequate.
Tip #2: Never Assign A Task To More Than One Person
When you assign a task to more than one person, you doom that task to lay dormant for days – if not weeks.
The inner battle for ownership (or non-ownership in most cases) starts the moment that you include two names. Internally both people are contemplating if they should take control. Or maybe they are hoping the other one will. No matter what they are thinking, one thing will ring true 95% of the time. That task won’t get done.
“When one or more people are assigned to a task, no one is.” – David Allen
If you must make something a collaborative effort, proactively follow the 4 steps below before officially assigning the project / task.
Gather the people that will be involved – in person or on a conference call. Open up the conversation with the intention to:
- Agree on what DONE looks like. Make sure everyone involved knows what the end result needs to looks like and the date it needs to be completed.
- Find a leader. Encourage someone to volunteer to take ownership and put a stake in the outcome and vision. Sometime you will have to assign a leader if no one volunteers, but make sure they are ready, willing, and able to take on that responsibility.
- Define the support team and their individual roles. If you don’t open the door for them to have this important “is this yours or mine” conversation to clearly define ownership, your team will run in circles and waste valuable time.
- Establish how everyone will play together. How will work be delivered? Who manages the deadlines? Where do collaborative documents live? Will you do “touch base calls” or team meetings? And my personal favorite, who will determine the end product is officially DONE?
Tip #3: Look In The Mirror And Do It Soon
We all want to be the good boss or manager. The one people WANT to work for.
To be that perfect boss you need to take responsibility for your own actions and BE PROACTIVE for your team.
This is a hard one for most of the businesses I work with. The procrastination starts high up in the business food chain. One task identified over a month ago hits crunch time before the team member ultimately responsible ever gets wind of it.
How can you stop this? Well, look in the mirror and determine if YOU are the bottleneck.
If you are not the bottleneck, you need to work your way up in the task assigning process to find out who is.
Perhaps the bottleneck is a stressed out, overworked VP that will not take it well if you point out his or her short-comings in task delegation. Instead offer to help alleviate the stress of passing on tasks.
Make it easy for people to pass info off to you by trying some of these tactics…
- Ask to be part of calls or meetings where tasks are being delegated or determined. Create an action item list from there.
- If you can’t be part of important calls, ask people to record the calls so you can review them later for action items.
- Start a punch list shared document (Google Docs are great for this) so they can jot notes down during the call that you can review later.
- Schedule a weekly review call.
Identifying tasks in the pipeline as soon as possible will put you in a proactive position… which your team will thank you for!
“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” – Christopher Parker
If you found these tips helpful, please reach out to us. Got great team management tips? Please share!
About the Author:
Tessa Ashford is a Certified Online Business Manager at Ashford Virtual Solutions. Her team of tech savvy admins and web pros help business owners get out from under business management and day-to-day tasks so they can focus on growing their businesses.
If you are losing customers, sleep or both because you can’t clone yourself… click here to schedule a free business problem solving session with Tessa.