Leading a group project or team initiative is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your leadership and management skills. However, little is more frustrating than when team members do not contribute equally to the task at hand. Uncooperative group members may not complete their work on time, refrain from participating in group meetings, or approach work with a negative attitude.
While unequal contributions from team members make projects unnecessarily difficult, this behaviour occurs more often than you may think. Such behaviour can hinder the success of a project – both the process and the end result.
As team leader, how can you motivate all team members to be engaged and supportive during a group effort? Last week’s post discussed how to motivate yourself; this week, we focus on others around you. Here are three suggestions for managing a balanced and effective team.
- Delegate Tasks According to the Interests of Group Members
When employees are not pursuing tasks that they are passionate about, interested in, or skilled at, they can be far less committed to approach them with an enthusiastic outlook.
When assigning tasks for a group initiative, pay attention to the interests and abilities of your team. If you customize your division of labour to these characteristics, your project may proceed more smoothly. Further, it will show that you are interested in the needs of each individual group member, which could boost their morale and trust in you.
- Foster Good Communication on All Platforms
Practically speaking, all group contributions should be readily and easily accessible for all other team members to access. If your team does not work from a shared server at the office, ensure that files are available through cloud-based sharing platforms or other formats that are easy to use for group members. This tactic, as well as setting clear goals and due dates, will help everyone to stay aware of the progress of the work as a whole and better enable others to contribute their portions on time.
Logistical matters aside, it is also important to foster effective communication among group members and provide opportunities to discuss issues. When issues remain unaddressed for long periods of time, they can grow until they are no longer manageable and may hinder the success of the project.
- Create a Tone of Friendliness and Respect
You do not need to become great friends with all of the members of your team. However, it is important to generate an atmosphere of friendliness and respect among all team members. When you maintain a friendly tone (even in the face of issues!), the group dynamic will be far more pleasant and it will be easier for team members to commit themselves to their work – and remain committed throughout the process.
Further, as team members begin to produce results, ensure that you are recognizing each colleague equally for their efforts. Imbalanced recognition can make it seem that you prioritize or favour certain individuals, which will reflect poorly on your leadership skills.
For further reading on managing effective teams and motivating team members, see our previous blog post on “Top Team Building Activities” or the Harvard Business Review’s “Make Your Good Team Great.”