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6 Important Team Management Skills for Successful Leaders in 2024

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It's impossible to overstate how important great leaders are to company success - they drive profits and positive organizational outcomes while playing a key role in employee engagement, employee experience and company culture.

While there is something to be said for having natural leadership talent, more often than not, capable team leaders achieve their positions because of their commitment to professional development, their extensive experience, and their passion for making their team's work lives more meaningful, enjoyable, and fulfilling.

That's why we've created this detailed list of six team management skills that today's managers and leaders should develop. We've also explained why these skills are so important in today's workplace and provided suggestions for improving these much-needed skills.

Why effective team management is important

Excellent team management is more than just coordinating a group of people to complete tasks and achieve goals. It goes much deeper. In reality, it's about bringing together professionals with different strengths and weaknesses and getting the best out of them while making them feel psychologically safe and having their needs respected. It's about enabling them to achieve the best possible results and grow in their careers.

Effective team management also has tangible positive impacts on company results and the work environment, such as:

  • Better employee experience - Recent Gallup research finds that managers are one of the most important factors in a good employee experience, spanning the stages of hiring, onboarding, performance, and exit. This shows what a big impact a team leader's leadership skills can have.
  • Increased Resilience - Organizational resilience is more important than ever for companies that want to survive and even thrive in a difficult and volatile economic climate. According to a 2023 McKinsey report, for companies looking to improve resilience, it is critical to have talented, adaptable leaders who are able to coach employees and encourage new behaviors and mindsets.
  • Higher engagement - Our State of People Enablement report found that only 37% of employees feel engaged at work, leaving plenty of room for improvement. SHRM has shown that positive experiences with leaders play an important role in engagement, as they are often responsible for Gallup Q12 items such as setting clear expectations, providing resources, and sharing feedback.

6 Important Team Management Skills for Leaders and Managers

While this list is by no means exhaustive, the following skills are undoubtedly essential for managers and leaders who want to have a positive impact on their organization, lead their employees and colleagues successfully, and continue to thrive in a volatile global economy.

Of course, different skills come naturally to different people, so managers may want to tackle the skills on this list with which they are least comfortable first.

1.Clear, open communication

Excellent communication skills include much more than just the ability to speak well. They reflect a person's ability to communicate information clearly and effectively in written, oral and/or physical forms, while also taking into account the motivations, emotions and intentions behind others' words or messages.

Of course, top-notch communication skills are critical for all professionals, but they are especially important for managers and executives whose job responsibilities rely heavily on excellent communication. Here are just a few examples:

  • Information Sharing - Managers often act as intermediaries and must properly understand and communicate information about goals, policies, and project updates from leadership to their teams and back. When it comes to communicating in meetings, Omar Tawakol, CEO of Rembrand, recommends "working hard to find the core of the last speaker's message and then contributing a valuable point beyond that. Focusing on building the conversation not only proves, that you listen, but also forces you to stay engaged."
  • Feedback and performance reviews - Although team leaders are not the only ones reviewing their reports as part of ongoing performance management, they play a key role and are often responsible for providing formal and informal feedback. Our report, IceHrm's Workforce Trends, showed that a third of employees are dissatisfied with their company's performance review process, and a majority are calling for more frequent reviews. The best managers are also transparent about the feedback they receive in their executive performance reviews. Using a tool like IceHrm's Reviews module can help streamline the entire professional appraisal process as it provides a comprehensive overview of team member performance in an intuitive dashboard.
  • Conflict resolution - Managers are often tasked with resolving problems and disputes within a department or even across departments. To do this respectfully and successfully, they must facilitate conversations, lead people to mutual understanding, and implement solutions. Team leaders who want to improve their communication skills in such situations should consider informal coaching with a colleague who has a good approach to conflict resolution. You might also look for resources for active learning or mediation training.

2.Top-notch delegation skills

Effective delegation, the ability to break work down into smaller tasks and assign them to different team members is critical to any high-performing team. No matter how good a manager is at their job, no one should be responsible for more work than they can reasonably handle.

The ability to delegate tasks is important not only because it helps team leaders manage their workload, but also because it allows reporters to grow professionally and take on new projects and tasks without micromanagement . And when team members truly work together thanks to effective delegation, they feel more engaged and motivated because they see how their efforts contribute to the group as a whole.

If you're looking to improve your delegation skills - or want to guide managers you know to do so - Forbes has put together some great tips on how to do it better, including the following:

  1. Focus on what you do best
  2. Provide clear, concise instructions
  3. Be supportive without micromanaging
  4. Identify the right people to delegate work to
  5. Set up bi-weekly delegation meetings.
  6. Embody the behavior you want others to emulate
  7. Assess team member strengths and weaknesses
  8. Make employees responsible for the outcome, not the task

3.Implement work-life balance

Balancing work and private life is not only important for employee satisfaction and retention. It also has a positive impact on productivity, prevents burnout, reduces stress and enriches the overall company culture. It's also good for business: 85% of employees surveyed in our Workforce Trends Report believe a good work-life balance helps them stay motivated and engaged at work.

However, work-life balance is an area that companies worldwide need to improve and prioritize. In a CIPD survey, respondents specifically cited fatigue at work, difficulty relaxing, excessive pressure or working too many hours as the main barriers to maintaining a healthy balance.

To improve work-life balance for themselves and their employees, managers can take a number of actions, namely:

  • Using goal setting software to set and collaborate with realistic, achievable goals so that team members can see what is possible within their work hours while feeling efficient and fulfilled.
  • Conducting 1:1 meetings and/or conducting employee surveys to find out whether employees would describe their work-life balance as good and, if not, what would help them improve it.
  • Do not work outside of established working hours or during free time or allow others to do the same.
  • Suggest or implement flexible work arrangements, e.g. offer a certain number of days to work from home or free mornings or afternoons.

4.Alignment of team and company goals

To motivate their employees to achieve good results, advance their careers, and enrich their experiences, team managers must work with their employees to set realistic goals. Even when teams set the most relevant, actionable, and motivating goals, those goals will not have a meaningful impact on company success if they are not aligned with the overall company strategy.

A McKinsey report found that 91% of companies with effective performance management systems link their employees' goals to the company's priorities.

This is what makes managers’ ability to align team and company goals so critical. Leaders rely on their teams to accomplish the tasks and do the work necessary to prepare the company for its goals and its larger mission. At the same time, managers need to show employees how their daily tasks contribute to the bigger picture of the company in order to maintain motivation, engagement and an overall positive mood. Our recently published report showed that 1 in 3 employees are dissatisfied with their company's internal goal setting and KPI measurement.

The easiest way for managers to practice goal alignment is to start from the top down. After learning about the company's overall goals on a quarterly or annual basis, they should share them with their employees and then collaboratively set relevant group and individual goals that meet the team's needs and interests and align with the company's priorities.

Manually tracking goals across different departments can be challenging, but dedicated tools like IceHrm's Goals module allow different teams to track and adjust their shared goals in a digital space. Our Goal Tree feature also enables teams to visualize relationships and dependencies between goals at all levels of their organization.

5.Support learning and development

Meaningful investments in learning and development - in the form of both time and financial resources - are crucial for ambitious, people-focused companies. They also serve a dual purpose by allowing companies to upskill and retrain team members to promote them internally and attract top talent who value professional development opportunities.

This is especially important considering that, according to a 2023 LinkedIn report, job skill requirements have changed 25% since 2015 and that number is expected to double by 2027.

However, in order for team members to take advantage of and understand their company's learning and development opportunities, they may need the guidance and coaching of their managers. For example, a 2022 SHRM report uncovered the following common employee frustrations regarding on-the-job training:

  • Difficulty staying motivated (33%)
  • Quickly forgetting training material (25%)
  • Not enough time to complete the training (25%)
  • Training is not relevant to their role (24%)

These are all areas where effective team managers can make a difference in their employees' training experiences. For example, they could:

  • Set up progression paths in IceHrm's learning module so employees can track and visualize their progress through training materials and learning objectives.
  • Help team members organize their work schedules and set aside specific blocks of time for learning and development.
  • Identify skills gaps in performance reviews and informal feedback sessions.

Importantly, management's focus on learning and development extends beyond just team members. Great leaders should regularly ask their colleagues and employees for feedback, take their own performance evaluations seriously, remain open-minded, and realize that there are always areas in which they can improve or lead their team better.

6.Decision-making skills

Team managers need to feel comfortable and confident that they can make quick, fruitful decisions in their daily work. Professionals often have to make tricky calculations on a regular basis, e.g.related to resource allocation, time management, conflict resolution, customer management and strategic planning, to name just a few examples.

However, what makes good decision-making particularly important for team leaders is the time they spend on it and the importance and significance of their conclusions. Interestingly, a McKinsey report found that professionals spend 37% of their time making decisions, and this number increases with seniority. For example, 14% of C-suite respondents said they spend up to 70% of their time making decisions.

The same report found that the best-performing companies make high-quality decisions quickly, implement them quickly and, as a result, experience high growth and/or returns.

Although some believe that decision making is a skill that is difficult to improve without direct experience, managers can consider these ideas:

  • Consultation of training and development resources specifically targeted at decision making.
  • Reliance on the company's core values and mission statement as a filter for decision-making.
  • Review established team and/or company goals and consider how the decision might contribute to or detract from those goals.
  • Try a framework such as a SWOT analysis, decision tree, or cost-benefit analysis as they provide you with structures to grasp a situation and make logical, well-informed decisions.

How IceHrm empowers team managers

Team managers play a crucial role in the overall success of a company, but it is not easy to train and improve team management skills if you cannot apply them in practice. While there is no replacement for on-the-job learning and development, dynamic workforce development software like IceHrm gives team leaders the tools they need to practice, refine, and implement their management skills day after day.

IceHrm also values a holistic approach to leadership, and our platform reflects this. Our range of interconnected modules means managers don't work on any of their skills in a silo, but instead see how all of their skills come together to become a better leader. For example, our Reviews, Goals, Learning, Instant Feedback and Meetings modules are all connected to enable team leaders to consistently improve their communication skills, delegation skills, work-life balance, goal alignment, professional development prioritization and decision-making skills.

Empower your team leaders with IceHrm's integrated modules for better management skills and organizational success.

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