Managing a small team seems easy, but leaders know better. Compared to a large group, a small team poses more challenges due to the workload and less manpower. Other factors, like job-induced stress, also impact the team’s overall productivity. If it is not addressed properly, it can lead to a toxic work environment and mental health issues.

A smart leader knows that in order to accomplish the organisational objectives, it is essential to help the team to effectively manage tasks-related stress and sustain a close-knit, positive culture where everyone is working together.

Here are 4 effective ways to successfully manage a small team:

1. Set clear and realistic goals or expectations.

Every successful team knows that everything begins with ‘why’ and ‘how.’ The ‘why’ pertains to the missions that give essence to the group’s existence. The company’s mission gives team members a sense of purpose, connection, and motivation to achieve their goals. The ‘how’ is the process as well as the standards that they need to meet.

The team leader needs to make sure that everyone understands what needs to be done and how it should be done. Never assume that all your subordinates fully understand what you expect them to accomplish. Also, avoid setting unrealistic expectations. Demanding extremely high results adds undue stress to your team, which may lead to negative consequences such as low morale, team disengagement, health problems, and burnout.

The key to preventing them is to have open and honest communication, where everyone is encouraged to discuss the necessary steps to meet short-term and long-term goals. Listen to their suggestions on how to do their specific tasks properly or mitigate the potential problems that may come up during the process. Discuss the best possible ways to ensure quality outcomes within the deadline, eliminating obstacles, and resolving the existing issues that can affect their overall performance.

It is also important to delegate tasks to the right people. Assessing their individual strengths and skills is crucial because it helps you delegate functions that suit their abilities. Finally, allow leeway for minor mistakes and avoid imposing severe consequences that can create fear and resentment. Harsh penalties only heighten the stress level and stifle workers’ creativity and motivation to do the job.

2. Stay on loop, while allowing them to work independently.

Once the tasks are delegated, and the deadline is set, trust everyone in your team to do their job. Your job is to monitor their output at the end of the day. Use tools that will help you achieve comprehensive tracking of their individual and collective outputs.

Consider using digital apps that offer smooth and transparent collaboration. Google Drive, for instance, allows everyone to share real-time updates and real-time editing of shared documents. There is a comment feature where anyone can leave questions, remarks or feedback. It is vital to maintain communication, where everyone can collaborate and help each other. You can also utilise chat channels like Slack and Facebook Workplace.

Always be transparent. Keep the whole team informed of their performance metrics. Conduct regular face to face or remote meetings to re-affirm the team’s missions, provide updates, and express appreciation for everyone’s effort. Be generous in acknowledging excellent performance by giving positive feedback that boosts their confidence.

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3. Be a good coach to the team.

The best leaders are people-oriented. They do not rely on micro-management; instead, they coach and empower every team member to reach his full potential. As a leader of a small team, you need to be a well-rounded individual – firm yet friendly. You need to value and respect every individual, assessing their talents and skills to make your task delegation easier. 

One of your vital duties is to support employee development, helping them manage their career path. You have the power to create an impact on your small team’s performance, so take time to offer support, resources, and words of encouragement. Providing relevant training that will boost their morale, help them manage stress, and advance their knowledge or skills are vital.

4. Promote a work-life balance.

As the leader of the pack, your staff sees you as an inspiration and motivator. Hence, it is important to set a good example in your work and personal ethics to gain their complete trust and respect. Make sure to do your job professionally, while supporting your team to do the same. Learn to manage your workload to prevent the feeling of being overstretched, grumpy, and unapproachable. Negative behaviour and attitude are highly contagious, affecting the atmosphere of the working environment. Delegate other tasks that interfere with your prime duties.

Watch out for the signs of burnout or stress among your staff to ensure their well-being at all times. As their leader, you can set positive and healthy boundaries of work and relaxation. If possible, have a flexible work routine that includes a work-from-home schedule. Trust them to do their tasks even in a remote condition and do not expect them to answer emails or do other jobs after work hours. Work limit is vital to avoid burn-out, diminished engagement, and weak performance.

On the other hand, improving the quality of their professional and personal life produces top-quality operational outcomes. Consider employee wellness programs, outdoor social events, or on-campus group activities like stretching, mindfulness, or walking for a few minutes during coffee breaks.

In summary

There is no doubt that the success of the team depends on the ability of the leader to encourage everyone to work passionately and produce excellent results.  If you are managing a small team, expect a lot of challenges as it will also test your leadership skills to motivate your team members to work collectively and happily towards a joint mission. Being a leader who believes in transparency, work-life balance, people empowerment, and healthy work culture is always a great asset of any business or organisation.

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Angeline Licerio
Angeline Licerio is a content writer for Elevate Corporate Training. Like the rest of her teammates at Elevate, Angeline believes that she can help create better bottom lines, happier and healthier staff and build communities where people engage with each other in high functioning relationships.
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