Couple years ago, when it turned out that demand for BI services in the company overgrown supply, for the first time in my life I was put in the role of a ‘Manager’. Without any previous experience and virtually any training it was ‘sink or swim’ experience both for me and my subordinates. After 2 years of struggling and constant up and downs I realized that effectively managing the team boils down to 5 major points

Listen carefully during interviews and take notes

If You think that ‘something is wrong’ with the person you are interviewing then most certainly it is true. It’s not necessary the interviewee fault though. Even if person is perfectly skilled, he/she might just not ‘click’. It may be something as vague as quirky musical taste but (under heavy stress) such small things can become animosities you will not be able to settle. Try to note employment conditions you made on the interview. If You agree that candidate should improve his/her skills upon getting the position, make sure you have clear action plan from the beginning. Otherwise you will never be able to enforce such agreements.

Have time and patience for the team

There are two major ideas behind having a team. Either you need someone to meet the supply deficit or to fill the skills gap. In both cases you should be able to delegate part of responsibilities and spare time to manage people and talk to them. It’s the ideal world. In reality more people means more work to all of you. That’s where nonconformism should kick in. It is only up to you to estimate team capacity and reserve some time on agenda for feedback and training. Otherwise you will miss all that subtle signs of discomfort team members might show. This will almost surely led to them talking behind your back and looking for next job.

Make sure you know where your team is going

Having clear understanding of team role in the organization is essential to managing team efficiently. Setting goals without having bigger picture is as pointless as inefficient. It’s your role to attend managerial meetings and spot initiatives that might affect the team. Without that, you will be making your moves based on corridor gossips. But even the best plans sometimes must be altered. Let’s face it – managing change is never easy. Team members will have a lot of questions to which you will not have answers. The best way is to stay open and admit that You don’t know something instead of trying to make something up. Get back with updates as soon as you have them.

Measure, measure, measure.. and set friendship borders

Be sure to have clear KPIs for bonuses evaluation / pay rise. When it comes to money, some people will try to push every border to get more. If you set clear rules, and what is even more important – repeat them frequently, there is a chance that you will avoid hassle every month. Make sure that employee can track their own performance live. This way team members can see their own progress without asking you thousand questions. The same rule applies to giving feedback. Very rarely people are used to take notes on their performance. Try to enforce habit of gathering solid proof of everyone’s performance. It might be work in the assigned projects, number of completed tasks in specific time frame or positive feedback from other company members. It makes evaluation easier when you can compare facts from both sides (yours and employees). What is also super important – stick to once established rules.

Organize efficiently

Whenever possible use software to plan work and flow of the tasks. Without that, for teams bigger than 2, you will loose track of how things are going sooner than you expect. There are lots of different solutions such as Jira for tech-savvies or Asana for the ones who prefer nicer UI. Regardless of tool used it will make your life easier when reporting progress to your boss, tracking work efficiency of team members and planning next quarter goals.

I could only wish that someone shown me those points 2 years ago. Unfortunately sometimes it’s impossible learn without earning scars by yourself. For me it was almost impossible to apply very generic examples, provided on various training, to very specific team needs. Until I was able to give up managerial role it was hard take a step back and look at all mistakes I could have avoided. Being a manager is tough role but with a proper attitude is a bit easier to bear.