Help Your Employees Work as a Team
You know there are times when the manager is overloaded, and other employees could—and should—take up some of the work. “You simply can’t do it all and not drive yourself crazy,” says Raymond Lepone, senior vice president at Grubb & Ellis in Los Angeles. “However, you need the right atmosphere for a team approach to work consistently.”
Putting together an environment where teams will work can be challenging. How do you know when a team approach is right for you?
- You need a new creative angle. Lisa Haneberg, a management and leadership author and consultant in Seattle, says a team will bring in new angles to a project. “When you need to make sure you have all the information that’s available, when you need a plethora of ideas or richness of information—that’s an appropriate time for a team,” she says.
- When you need to divide and conquer. When a task is too big for one person, a team can divide the project into smaller components quickly. “Once you get an agreement and commitment on how you’re going to approach this, then you want to quickly divide and conquer,” Haneberg says.
- When you need a sense of employee “buy-in.” “People are intrinsically rewarded by meaningful work,” says Jann Freed, professor of business management at Central College in Pella, Iowa. “Too many managers try to do it themselves, and they aren’t doing anyone a favor. People behind the scenes need to see the overall picture, too.”
- Your need employees to cross-train. What happens when an employee is out for a length of time? Will someone else be able to step in? “Cross-training is critical if someone is gone, so that anyone can slide over and do their job,” Freed says. “A team approach can help cross-train employees.”
Ultimately, Freed says, your goal as a manager should be to make the place run without you. “Sometimes leaders let their insecurities out and think, ‘I won’t be missed—if this runs fine when I’m gone, it means I’m not needed,’” Freed says. “It’s just the opposite—it’s a testament to good leadership that you have done a good job delegating, sharing ownership and sharing information.”
Are there ever times when teams aren’t appropriate? Haneberg says yes. “When a team has no expertise or input, or it’s a complex issue, a team might not be the right way to go,” she says. “I don’t believe in inclusion for inclusion’s sake.”