5 Great Ways to Improve Team Management (Nerdify experience)
As the team manager of Nerdify, it’s my job to wrangle the awesome individuals that form my team into a cohesive unit. That’s not something that comes naturally to many people, and it certainly didn’t to me. When I began working at Nerdify (gonerdify.com) I was lucky to have the guidance of some exceptional mentors, and their advice was critical to me as I developed my team management skills.
Few things will pour freezing ice water on your burning leadership ambitions however, like your first team-management experience. Management may look easy, but in a fast-paced education startup like Nerdify motivating a group of people to work together towards the same goal is surprisingly hard work. Simply giving a collection of employees a shared assignment won’t turn them into a team, but good management certainly can.
When managing the completion of an academic task for a student or helping them with an assignment, managing the freelance Personal Nerds who handle this work is essential, but so is effective management of the Nerdify team who work behind the scenes.
Here are a few of the biggest lessons my management coaches and mentors have taught me along the way:
Establish Goals: To function as a team, everyone needs to be moving towards the same goal. For me with Nerdify, this has meant getting everyone on the same page about what the goals are, creating a realistic plan to get there, and making sure everyone understands where they specifically fit in. With those key pieces in place, motivating the team towards their goal becomes much easier.
Assign Roles: Every member of your team should have a unique set of skills and experiences. As a team manager, it’s your job to review these and assign the right tasks to the right people. The more a team member is suited for their task, the easier it becomes to motivate them. Through placing the right people into positions where they can make the most of their talents, and adjusting those roles when needed, your team will soon turn into a well-oiled machine just like Nerdify.
Work as One: The whole point of having a team is to accomplish things that are challenging or impossible for an individual to do. Success of a team isn’t the matter of an individual accomplishment, it’s about getting results that are possible only when everyone works as one. This means building a strong sense of team identity by sharing credit, encouraging collaboration, and providing performance feedback for both individuals and the group as a whole.
Aid Communication: One of the biggest problems in managing any group of people is making sure everyone sings from the same song sheet. For a team leader, this often means clarifying expectations, checking in with individual team members, and facilitating small conversations and big discussions. It also means doing a great deal of listening, and providing opportunities for team members to communicate their ideas, opinions and concerns with you.
Salve Discrepancies: Disagreements are inevitable. Even the best teams have arguments — from why an important deadline was missed to where to go for lunch — and dealing with them is part of a team manager’s job. If you want to have a motivated, productive team, it’s important to review what’s going on and create a fair process with dealing with these problems when they happen. Being the manager, there is no room for playing favorites, as you have to prioritize creating the best resolution for the team as whole.
If there’s one big takeaway for me with my experience managing Nerdify, it’s this: Being a leader means supporting your team, providing them with the resources and help they need to excel in both their individual and group work. That’s a big part of my responsibility with Nerdify, nurturing our team to be strong both in and out of work environment. Above all, I would say to my team that I’m always here to help you, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me!