A happy employee is a productive employee. This is not a new concept. But what makes an employee “happy?” A winning culture, a collaborative team, and a healthy work environment are just a few facets of employee satisfaction, but above all, effective team leadership can make or break team morale. When you’re leading a project, the client isn’t the only client; you have to take the needs of your team into account in equal measure. To build a great team, try following these tips:
1. Give Your Team Ownership
Instilling a sense of ownership in team members is not only good for morale, but for quality as well. Your team will be more driven to create the best product possible when they feel like it’s partially theirs. Knowing it’s their name in the credits and a direct reflection of their work will make employees more invested in the success of the project as a whole.
2. Listen and Respond
An effective leader not only acknowledges ideas and insights from members of their team, but actively seeks them out. People need to feel that their opinions matter and are valued, and a great manager welcomes input. Once armed with the insights from your team, show them that you listened. Not every idea is feasible, but finding the value in every suggestion and putting those ideas into effect will go a long way in the eyes of your team.
3. Set Expectations
Being clear on project requirements and standards is a must as a team leader. From a practical standpoint, being concise in your instructions will reduce the risk of error and wasted time. But for team members, it just makes the process more enjoyable. Confusion leads to mistakes and stress, and is detrimental to the project as a whole. Make sure your team knows what your expectations are and be sure they know that you are available for questions and clarification if necessary.
4. Have a Gameplan and Be Transparent
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Every project needs a gameplan. What are the steps? How long will it take? How can we hit this deadline? Ask for input from your team on what they think the challenges will be and how to overcome those. Develop a plan for success together to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Being aligned on what work needs to be done is imperative when establishing a collaborative and efficient workflow.
5. Set Your Team Up for Success
Failure isn’t fun for anyone, least of all when it could have been avoided. It is the responsibility of a team leader to get client expectations nailed down and provide a roadmap to completion for team members. Make sure tasks are clear and parameters for success are well developed. Provide support and clarification when necessary, and allow employees to take ownership in the project. Start by telling your team exactly what is needed from them, then let them come up with the best way to reach the goal. Rather than setting them loose to complete projects, guide and course correct as necessary. When your team has a clear target to hit, they are set up to be heroes for your clients.
6. Show Your Appreciation
Your team should know what’s expected of them, but do they know that they’re meeting those expectations? When the work gets stressful, complicated, or just plain boring, a simple “thank you” to your team can go a long way. Let them know that they are appreciated. Try to find opportunities to communicate positive client feedback back to the team. “Our app has a 4.8 star rating in the app store thanks to your work,” or “the client was bragging about how great your guys are to work with!” Take any excuse to be positive and make it a habit to show people they are valued. It sounds like a simple concept, but one that makes a huge impact on morale and overall satisfaction when done consistently.
7. Protect Your Team
Sometimes being a team leader means delivering bad news. Deadlines get moved up, projects get scrapped, additional work is now required— it can’t always be helped and sometimes there isn’t a silver lining. But your team wants to know you have their back and their best interests in mind. This has a lot to do with managing client expectations. If they ask for additional work, push it to the next release. If they come back with issues that aren’t valid, be prepared to show them that the work indeed meets the requirements agreed upon. But above all, be transparent with members of your team and remind them that you’re all in this together.
8. Facilitate Learning Experiences
If you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Employees want to not only feel that their skills are being put to good use, but to feel like they’re expanding and adding to those skills. An effective leader gives their team the opportunity to develop and hone new skillsets while maintaining productivity levels. Providing opportunities for your people to explore new talents and giving them the support to do so will demonstrate your loyalty to them and their career. If an employee feels they’re continuing to learn, they’ll feel more satisfied and happy in their role.
9. Focus on the Good
Unsurprisingly, one of the most important aspects of job satisfaction is the work itself. Leaders must help their team believe that the work they do is worthwhile. Remind your team of the benefits that the work they’re doing will unlock. Why are they doing this project? Who will benefit and how? That perspective can turn a seemingly mundane project into being a part of something cool. So whether it’s building a cutting-edge software system, designing an interactive website, or simply working to make the client’s life easier, make sure your team remembers to take pride in the work we’re doing. Employees that can see the big picture will have a more positive attitude and want to continue the pattern of excellent work.
10. Keep it Fun
Lastly, just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Find the balance between professionalism and light-hearted fun. A well-timed silly gif in Slack, a yummy snack for the meeting, a break for a foosball challenge can relieve stress, relax the team, and increase creativity and productivity.
There is no exact recipe for building the perfect team. But following these tips should help you be a more effective leader and build amazing teams.