We've evolved! Fingerprint for Success is now Marlee.

10 Crucial team management skills & tips to develop yours

"Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people."— Steve jobs.Transforming a group of elite individuals into a high-performance team requires a unique set of management skills. This article delves into the science of team leadership, providing practical tips, real-world examples, and powerful strategies to enhance your capabilities. Through stories and case studies, you'll gain the knowledge needed to develop essential skills, strengthen your leadership, and achieve extraordinary results with your team.

Why are team management skills important?

Team management skills help leaders to effectively organize, motivate, and lead a group of talented individuals with diverse strengths toward a shared goal. In other words, effective team management requires a balanced blend of interpersonal, social, and organizational skills.

Today, modern remote and hybrid working conditions have made it all the more important for organizations to train and educate their leaders in these skills. 

Gallup’s State of the Workplace Report 2023  found that disengaged employees, often victims of poor team management, cost the world US$8.8 trillion in lost productivity.

On the other hand, companies that invest in leadership skills for team management experience a 21% increase in profitability and a 17% increase in productivity.1

If you are looking forward to a managerial or leadership position, these numbers directly highlight the importance of team management skills on your resume. However, the resume can only get you a seat in the interview. In the following sections, we'll dive deeper into the core skills needed for effective team management and how to develop them.

10 game-changing team management skills to develop exceptional team performance

1. Communication

Communication is a crucial management skill for leaders. The better you can express your thoughts, the more successful you will be.

A recent LinkedIn survey reported that communication skills are one of the top-ranking most in-demand skills for 2024.2

Now, when we talk about communication, it's not just about giving speeches like a pro (although that's a huge plus). It's more about getting your point across clearly and effectively, bringing the entire team on the journey with you. Let me paint you a picture with the following example.

🔍 Example: John, a senior developer and a back-end lead at a software company, faced a critical situation just before a crucial client presentation. A significant bug had slipped through their code, and the pressure was insurmountable.

Rather than succumbing to panic, he gathered his team with a composed message on their team communication platform. He addressed the issue without assigning blame and facilitated open dialogue to find a solution collectively. John's positive demeanor and clear communication skills allowed the team to work through the problem effectively.

Effective communication saved the presentation for John and created a sense of camaraderie among the team.

When work gets intense, we often falter. If you've lost your cool before, cut yourself some slack. It might happen again. But don't settle or lose heart. Ask yourself, “What is the best way out of this situation?” Stepping up during tough times and creating a positive work environment is not easy, but as a leader, it's vital. Practical communication skills can get your teams through any trouble, whether big or small. 

👉 Read more: Discover the essential communication skills every leader needs and learn proven strategies to advance your abilities.

2. Active listening

"When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.— Dalai Lama”

Active listening is as essential for a team leader as communicating your thoughts effectively. It is not an exaggeration to say active listening is critical to effective communication.

Team managers who don't actively listen to their team's concerns often see high employee turnover rates and a revolving door of unhappy employees. It's not a good look! Frequent meetings and one-on-ones are a start, but active listening goes way deeper.

🔍 Example: Imagine Jane on your team, who usually expresses herself clearly and confidently. During a project update, she seems hesitant and avoids eye contact. By actively listening, you might ask, "Jane, your ideas are usually so insightful. Is there something about this project that concerns you?" This allows her to share underlying worries you might have missed otherwise.

🌟 Expert advice: Watch coaching pioneer Michelle Duval explain how to discover the signs of poor listening and learn the higher-level active listening skills to help you develop better professional and personal relationships.

How to Improve Your Listening Skills | 5 Surprising Techniques | Fingerprint For Success

3. Effective team leadership

Despite the abundance of literature on how to be an effective leader, 65% of employees prefer a boss-change over a pay raise. 3

This statistic underscores a critical disconnect between leadership styles and employee satisfaction, highlighting the need to reevaluate leadership approaches in the workplace.

The books are not wrong. However, a leader's need for power and control, ability to inspire and persuade, and executive presence all contribute to employee satisfaction and organizational success and come with experience.

Effective leaders possess a unique blend of confidence, charisma, and decisiveness, enabling them to command respect and instill trust in their teams. They are adept at articulating a compelling vision, bringing everyone on board to achieve a common goal, and making tough decisions when necessary.

🔍 Example: Take Steve Jobs; his unique leadership style led to the most revolutionary change in the telecommunications industry. Mike Slaed, a former executive and good friend of Steve’s, shares his experience working for such an iconic leader:

“Steve always encouraged me to think outside of the box. Just taking the contrarian view as an exercise is something not enough people do in business, politics, or life. Steve was not conflict-avoidant in any way, and although this rubbed many people the wrong way, it helped flesh issues out into the open. Steve was also relentless in his focus on the consumer experience. He hated conceptual presentations and always zoomed right into the practical “What does the consumer do?” or “What does the ad say.”

This emphasizes the role of executive presence in leadership effectiveness. It suggests that leaders who exude confidence, authority, and influence are better equipped to create an innovative work environment, drive performance, and, ultimately, achieve success.

👉 Read more: Unlock your potential: learn the team leadership skills needed for success

4. Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution is a frequent ritual for anyone sitting in a leadership position.

On average, a manager spends about 6 hours a week resolving conflict.4

The same study also reveals that the number is not much different for almost anybody in the leadership position. This makes conflict resolution one of the essential skills for leaders.

Conflict in the workplace usually arises because of differences in opinion. One team member might think A is the best approach, while the other might think B is the right and more efficient one. Friction arises, and you have a conflict on your plate.

The good thing about conflict is that it can be resolved strategically, sometimes even leading to more productive results. However, to resolve conflicts constructively, you need a deeper understanding of your team.

You can start by identifying what motivated the conflict to arise in the first place. It can be the different attitudes of individual team members towards the task. While one prefers lateral thinking, the others might have a methodical approach to handling the task. You can do this by initially listening to the concerns 1-on-1. Most importantly, you need to develop each team member's cooperative mindset.

👉 Read more: Learn how to resolve team conflict. identify the root causes of conflict and implement effective resolution techniques.

🌟 Expert advice: Invite your team to answer questions on what motivates them and then ask our AI, Marlee, what is causing conflict between team members.

Receive instant personalized insights from Marlee, our AI

5. Problem-solving

Challenges are inevitable for a leader, and problem-solving is critical for overcoming them effectively. While conflict resolution keeps your team running smoothly, problem-solving tackles unforeseen obstacles and paves the way for future success.

A Harvard Business Review survey involving 1,300 participants showcased that when a leader crumbles under pressure, it hurts not only their credibility but also team morale. People reported feeling less motivated, missing deadlines more often, and even alienating customers when their leader went into "panic mode.”5

Effective problem-solving goes beyond reacting to crises. Here are some key strategies leaders can employ:

  • Critical thinking and anticipation: Effective leaders anticipate challenges by analyzing trends and potential roadblocks. This allows them to take preventive measures and develop contingency plans.
  • Structured problem-solving techniques: Frameworks such as the STAR method provide a structured approach to analyzing problems and communicating solutions. You can also utilize tools like root cause analysis to identify the underlying cause of issues and prevent them from recurring.
  • Gathering information and diverse perspectives: Leaders don't have to have all the answers. Encourage open communication and actively seek input from your team members. Diverse perspectives can lead to more creative and effective solutions.
  • Staying calm under pressure: Difficult situations can evoke strong emotions. Leaders who remain calm and composed can make better decisions and inspire confidence in their team. Techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness practices can be helpful.

🔍 Example: The following case study perfectly captures the essence of problem-solving for effective leadership.

Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe, foresaw the shift to cloud computing and subscription-based software packaging and devised a strategic change for Adobe. Despite criticism, the move paid off, leading Adobe to become a Fortune 400 company with a market cap exceeding US$100 billion in 2018.6

To be an effective leader whom teams look up to, you must be adaptive and strategic. Additionally, you need to show resilience in the face of setbacks. Team managers who possess these skills remain calm and composed during crises, instilling confidence in their team members and motivating them to persevere through adversity.

6. Decision-making

Being the boss means making decisions, but exceptional leaders also understand how their team makes decisions. 

Your team looks to you for guidance, but that doesn't mean you must be a one-person show. You need to understand how your team members make decisions so you can align the right responsibility to the right person. 

In the book Managing with Style, authors Rowe, A. J., & Mason, R. O. have divided any decision-making process into four categories — analytical, behavioral, conceptual, and directive. However, this doesn't capture the full complexity of any decision-making process.7

Our research benchmarking the motivations of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders identified 48 motivational traits that influence decision-making at work. While exploring all 48 is beyond this discussion, some key categories include a person's need for achievement, risk tolerance, and level of comfort with ambiguity. Understanding these motivations helps you predict how someone might approach a decision.

Why is it essential to grasp your team's decision-making styles?

  • Improved efficiency: Knowing your team's styles allows you to assign tasks strategically. Need a data-driven report? Assign someone with an analytical style. Brainstorming a new marketing campaign? Look to the conceptual thinkers.
  • Enhanced communication: Tailoring your communication style to each team member leads to better understanding. A compliant team member might appreciate clear instructions, while a tolerant one might thrive with open-ended questions.
  • Reduced bias: Everyone has blind spots. Recognizing your team's biases can help you identify pitfalls in decision-making and course-correct before reaching suboptimal solutions.

How can you identify and leverage your team's decision-making styles?

  • Direct assessment: Our science-backed questions on what motivates you measure 48 motivations, which are more than 90% accurate. Identify your team's work style motivations to support more effective team decision-making.
  • Observe behavior: Pay attention to how team members approach tasks and discussions. Do they ask for a lot of data (analytical) or focus on team impact (behavioral)?
  • Open communication: Encourage team members to share their thought processes and how they approach decisions. This fosters trust and self-awareness.

7. Delegation

Mastery in delegation is the key to mastery in management. If you are good at delegating work, you can avoid the number one cause of productivity loss.

According to a survey, stress caused by overwork allocation is the top cause of overall productivity loss, costing around US$300 billion every year.

Moving up to the leadership position, your responsibilities become more complex and strategy-oriented. You need to switch tasks and contexts and wear several hats more frequently. Delegation skills are the antidote to keeping your sanity intact while you do all this.

Effective delegation skills provide more than one value. It helps managers distribute workload efficiently, preventing burnout and promoting a healthier work-life balance. Also, it helps with employee development by providing opportunities for skill enhancement and career growth. Moreover, delegating tasks demonstrates trust and appreciation for team members, boosting morale and overall team performance.

By following a structured approach to delegation, managers can ensure that tasks are completed effectively and efficiently, maximizing the team's productivity and success. However, using a long to-do list for managing tasks is not the most effective way to delegate work. 

ProofHub, a project management and team collaboration software, can assist you with effective delegation, making the whole process much easier, efficient, and quick. ProofHub keeps all your tasks, projects, and files in one central location. Track the progress of delegated tasks in real-time, see who's working on what, and identify any roadblocks before they become problems. This keeps everyone accountable and helps you spot areas where delegation can be even smoother.

Another notable feature of ProofHub is its flat pricing. It doesn't hit you with any surprise charges for extra users. A great fit for teams of all sizes.

8. Understanding team dynamics

Teams are a complex mix of personalities, skills, and perspectives. Sometimes, things just click, while other times, it's like walking on eggshells.

Effective team management involves understanding the team's dynamics. A leader should be able to identify team members’ hidden beliefs, motivations, and individual preferences – even their own to lead by example.

But how exactly can this be achieved? You can start by observing communication and problem-solving styles across the team. Ask the following questions:

  • Are team members collaborating effectively?
  • Is internal competition hindering collaboration?
  • Are there any external factors causing friction?

These are all crucial aspects for a team to function at its best. Moreover, these factors become even more prevalent in virtual team settings. Challenges like remote communication can drastically disrupt team cohesion.

Studies on the effects of remote work on collaboration show that with proper team management, even remote work can lead to stronger bonds and increased team productivity.8 Fostering a sense of psychological safety and celebrating diverse working styles can create productive, high-performing teams. 

👉 Read more: Learn how to run a team dynamics workshop. Boost collaboration, improve communication, and unlock your team's hidden potential. 

9. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is one of the most sought-after leadership skills. Over the last few years, this skill has been shown as invaluable within exceptionally high-performing teams. A survey conducted by Harvard Business Studies suggests that when choosing an employee for a leadership position, 71% of employers value emotional intelligence more than technical expertise.9

But what exactly is emotional intelligence

Psychologist Dr. Daniel Goleman, generally referred to as the father of the concept of EI due to his highly acclaimed book chapter, “The Emotional and Intelligent Workplace,” describes emotional intelligence:

Daniel Goleman Introduces Emotional Intelligence | Big Think

In short, as a leader, you should be able to read a room effectively. Not all your subordinates are the same. Some are technical wizards, while others navigate challenges with uncanny grace. As a leader, it falls on your shoulders to make everyone comfortable in their skin.

However, no institute offers a bachelor's degree in emotional intelligence. So, how can one go about improving one's emotional intelligence skills?

The answer is self-awareness. Before you can understand others, you need to understand yourself. This means recognizing your emotional strengths and weaknesses.

🔍 For example, are you constantly at odds with a colleague? First, take a step back and consider if your communication style might contribute to the tension. Do you tend to interrupt or jump to conclusions? Understanding your emotional triggers is crucial for managing them effectively. To improve this, you can make a conscious effort to listen and opt for neutral communication actively. Avoid accusatory language or loaded statements. Focus on the issue and use "I" statements to express your concerns.

🌟 Expert advice: Boost your emotional intelligence with our Increase EQ online coaching program. Develop your EI and become the leader your team deserves.

10. Time management

Time management is not just a personal productivity skill; it's an essential tool for effective team management. It involves allocating time wisely, prioritizing tasks, and optimizing productivity to achieve desired outcomes on time.

When leaders and team members effectively manage their time, they create outstanding teams of accountable, stress-free, happier employees. 

Though becoming a time management expert has several benefits, a few tools will save you unnecessary struggle.

🌟 Expert advice: Frameworks such as the Eisenhower Matrix systematically prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance, helping teams focus on what matters most.10

Feeling unmotivated?

Find out how to unlock your motivation.

3 proven tools to develop your team management skills

Being a leader is a tough spot to be in. Whether you're managing a small team or overseeing a large organization, the responsibilities that come with leadership can often feel overwhelming. You're juggling diverse personalities and wearing many hats. Here are a few actionable tips to effectively manage any team, whether big or small.

1. Motivation analysis: Understand your team's dynamics and strengths

Understanding the team’s dynamics and strengths includes understanding the coordination between your team members, their cooperative efforts toward each other, their interpersonal relationships, attitudes, and many other factors.

It's a lot to juggle, even for seasoned leaders!

This is where Marlee can greatly assist you in understanding your team.

Here's how it works:

  • Science-backed insights: Team members answer questions that reveal their unique motivations, strengths, and blind spots. 
  • Personalized profiles: Based on the answers, Marlee generates instant personalized insights for each team member, highlighting their strengths and benchmarking their XFactors for success.
  • Comparative XFactor analysis: Marlee allows you to compare team members, reveal team affinities, and predict potential conflict and collaboration opportunities.
  • Data-driven decisions: With these insights, you can delegate tasks and projects that match each member's strengths and work-style preferences to improve team harmony. 

This ensures that tasks are delegated effectively and that team members are engaged in work that matches their strengths.

Ask Marlee, our AI for personalized insights about team strengths

🔍 Example: Here's how Marlee helps Canva's Internal Coaching Lead, Sarah Nanclares, to understand team dynamics:

"Recently, we had a new People Partner start, who inherited 11 direct reports, so, I was able to walk her through the platform and say "Let me show you the team you've walked into. I also work with people in company-critical departments, such as engineering, design, and product, when they can't see eye to eye.That's when I bring them in together, and Marlee helps people and teams rise above the emotional aspect of the situation, and into "understanding land. We're moving away from 'right and wrong' which allows us to have much more constructive conversations about behavior."

Sarah's executive coaching experience highlights Marlee's versatility in enhancing team dynamics, from onboarding to talent acquisition, making it an indispensable tool.

2. AI coaching: Develop emotional intelligence and empathy

As a leader, you set the stage for your team's performance. Effective leaders are both empathetic and strategic. They understand their team members' feelings and motivations but can make tough decisions for the greater good.

Evaluating technical skills is straightforward, but understanding someone's emotional standpoint? That's a different story. This is where Marlee supports your development.

With AI coaching, team members explore self-actualization and behavioral analysis. AI coaching guides team members through biweekly sessions where they explore emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and relationship-building, all of which are crucial components of empathy and emotional intelligence.

The online coaching platform's accessibility and convenience ensure that leaders can engage in continuous personal and professional development, ultimately leading to more effective leadership and team performance.

This feature helps leaders better understand themselves and their team members by identifying individual drives and motivations, setting tailored goals, and providing personalized coaching.

Here are a few additional tips to develop emotional intelligence:

  • Actively listen to your team members without interrupting, allowing them to express themselves fully.
  • Practice empathy by putting yourself in others' shoes and considering their perspectives before reacting.
  • Provide regular feedback and recognition to acknowledge the efforts and achievements of your team.
  • Foster a culture of open communication and trust where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings.
  • Lead by example by demonstrating emotional intelligence in your interactions and decision-making processes.
  • Invest time building meaningful relationships with your team members to strengthen rapport and understanding.
  • Encourage self-awareness among team members by promoting reflection and introspection.
  • Develop conflict resolution skills to address disputes and disagreements constructively.
  • Stay adaptable and flexible in your leadership approach to accommodate diverse personalities and situations.

By combining Marlee's AI coaching with these practices, you'll cultivate a team that's not just skilled but emotionally intelligent and ready to tackle any challenge together.

coaching programs are displayed on your F4S dashboard

Marlee personalized coaching queue

3. Ask Marlee, our AI: Gain insights on the fly for continuous learning

Every organization in today's economy faces unprecedented challenges and market shifts. Investing in continuous learning and development (L&D) has become necessary for employees at all levels to stay ahead of the curve. However, with the increasing number of learning opportunities available, finding the right fit for each individual can be challenging.

This is where our AI, Marlee, comes into play. Asking Marlee is a game-changer in the world of L&D, providing teams with research-backed insights tailored to their unique motivations. By leveraging  Marlee's comprehensive motivational analysis, which measures team motivations with an impressive 90% accuracy rate, Marlee can deliver personalized recommendations and coaching on the fly.

With Marlee, teams no longer rely on generic training programs that may not resonate with their specific needs and preferences. Instead, they can access knowledge and guidance tailored to their individual motivations, ensuring maximum engagement and effectiveness.

Marlee's AI-powered coaching provides soft-skills coaching, nurturing potential leaders and fostering a culture of continuous growth and development. By integrating Marlee into their team management approach, leaders can revolutionize how they support and empower their employees. With personalized insights and recommendations available at their fingertips, teams can unlock their full potential, leading to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and overall success for the organization.

Ask Marlee, our AI about your leadership skills

Frequently asked questions

What are common pitfalls new managers encounter, and how can I avoid them?

New managers often struggle with micromanagement, poor communication, and neglecting input from their team members. To avoid these challenges, it's crucial to build trust within your team, actively listen to their perspectives, and regularly solicit feedback to improve your team management skills.

🌟 Expert Advice: Learn how to run a team dynamics workshop. This will boost collaboration, improve communication, and unlock your team's hidden potential.

What are the challenges of managing a remote or hybrid team?

Managing a remote or hybrid team presents several challenges. Firstly, communication can become more difficult without face-to-face interaction, leading to misunderstandings or delays in information sharing. Secondly, building team culture and relationships may be challenging when team members are physically dispersed, potentially resulting in feelings of isolation or disconnection.

Additionally, time zone differences among team members can create logistical hurdles, making it challenging to schedule meetings or coordinate work effectively. You can effectively manage your remote or hybrid teams by proactively communicating, intentionally building a strong team culture, and staying flexible with work schedules.

🌟 Expert Advice: Gain a true understanding of your workplace culture—from individual teams to offices and organization-wide with our culture maps.

How can I develop effective team management skills?

To develop effective team management skills, you can prioritize transparency, maintain effective communication, listen actively, delegate tasks appropriately, provide regular feedback, support team members' growth and development, and continuously learn and improve.

🌟 Expert Advice: Take our career assessment and receive an instant report on your XFactor success areas for development based on our research models.

References

1. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/349484/state-of-the-global-workplace.aspx?thank-you-report-form=1

2. https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/talent-strategy/linkedin-most-in-demand-hard-and-soft-skills

3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tykiisel/2012/10/16/65-of-americans-choose-a-better-boss-over-a-raise-heres-why/?sh=47e84f9576d2

4. https://gitnux.org/workplace-conflict-statistics/#:~:text=conflict%20at%20work.-,Managers%20spend%20around%206%20hours%20per%20week%20(roughly%2015%25%20of,style%20when%20resolving%20workplace%20conflicts.

5. https://hbr.org/2018/12/when-managers-break-down-under-pressure-so-do-their-teams

6. https://dprism.com/insights/out-of-the-box-into-the-cloud-adobes-transformation-success-story/

7.  https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1987-98777-000

8. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-021-01196-4

9. https://press.careerbuilder.com/2011-08-18-Seventy-One-Percent-of-Employers-Say-They-Value-Emotional-Intelligence-Over-IQ-According-to-CareerBuilder-Survey#:~:text=When%20asked%20why%20emotional%20intelligence,team%20members%20and%20react%20accordingly

10. https://www.canva.com/design/DAFtyOsS0O0/-HxK2vfVjdS07CvTrEw7pA/view?mode=preview&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_content=DAFtyOsS0O0&utm_medium=link&utm_source=publishsharelink

Bring out the best in everyone.

Create your Marlee account now to start chatting and find out about yourself and your team.