managing it teams

How to Build and Manage a Great IT Team

This is a guest post from Tess Pajaron.

Success in business starts with great teams.

That’s why building and managing teams is such a worthwhile pursuit – once you get all the moving parts just right, something magical happens and it can potentially take your business to the next level.

But that’s also the reason why building engaged and productive teams is such a challenge. Assembling and motivating an IT team isn’t easy, but when you do it right, you can expect to get a massive reward for your effort.

Here are 8 tips to help you build and manage a productive IT team.

1. Develop and communicate core ideas.

Developing and assigning objectives to individuals in your team is a key first step.

But you can’t do that without first defining and communicating your mission and core values. This is how you draw team members into your culture and set a specific tone for your project.

It can be something as simple as “delivering quality code on time,” but your message needs to be clear. If your team has to make a decision, they will be able to easily assess whether a solution helps this mission or not.

2. Invest in smart team building.

Don’t write off team building as a set of forced activities that only make your IT team members feel awkward.

Researchers who analyzed data from over a hundred studies on team building conducted between 1950 and 2007 concluded that engaging in team building experiences had significant positive effects on team performance.

How do you start team building in a positive way? Instead of asking your team to engage in forced activities that cause discomfort, rely on this smart solution – volunteering.

It’s a kind of activity the entire team will feel proud to be part of. Research proves that helping others is incredibly rewarding and it even makes people feel like they’ve got more time on their hands.

3. Build chances for non-work-related communication.

Communication is key to the success of your team. But did you know that informal communication is crucial for boosting the productivity of your co-workers?

Research from Human Dynamics Laboratory at MIT found that specific patterns of informal communication were a key factor in a team’s success.

It doesn’t mean you should encourage your team members to become friends and spend every Friday playing darts at a local pub. But be aware of how important non-work conversations are to the internal health of your team. You don’t want your co-workers to consider themselves and others as cogs in a boring machine.

Avoid making employees have casual conversations through forced team building activities. You can easily prompt the team to have more informal interactions by scheduling their coffee breaks at the same time.

4. Give and respond to feedback.

To monitor the well-being of your team, make sure that team members get plenty of occasions to share their feedback with you. You should be the one to ask for their opinion on anything ranging from leadership to training.

Tackle every issue that has a direct impact on your success.

As a leader, you should offer your feedback to employees as well. Measure and observe the work of your team; your feedback will work best if it’s backed up by solid data. This is a great way to show that you care about the team’s well-being and productivity.

5. Avoid brainstorming sessions.

If you think holding a brainstorming session offers an excellent opportunity for the team to interact, get to know each other better and come up with innovative ideas, think twice.

What makes teams great is the ability to pool their resources and develop amazing solutions to problems. Research shows that brainstorming isn’t the right way to make it happen.

There are many reasons to account for this, from a phenomenon called “social loafing,” to problems in team dynamics where people feel that they’re not offered enough space or that their idea will be judged.

To avoid problems that arise in face-to-face brainstorming, use your existing instant messaging solution to create a special group chat where team members are encouraged to share their ideas.

6. Consistency matters.

As a leader of your team, you need to be intentional and consistent in your actions.

If your team sees that you’re not putting their suggestions into action or taking their feedback seriously, you’re going to lose their motivation.

When implementing changes to your workflows, be sure that these alterations are part of an enduring process. By implementing improvements suggested by your team, you’ll motivate others to come forward and participate in this process.

7. Why micro-cultures are a bad idea.

Even if they seem to be a natural way for your team members to bond with each other, encouraging the formation of micro-groups is a risky move.

Your team members will naturally form closer bonds to people with whom they share common values.

While you can’t make your team members like each other, you can create an objective they will all share. This is something that will help them to become committed to a unified cause. They’ll be able to perceive their value to the project and feel like they have a say about its direction.

You’ve got no control over what happens in private, but inter-departmental rivalries and office cliques won’t work to your advantage. Deal with this issue up front and you’ll build a goal-oriented, positive work environment.

8. Empower your team members.

There’s a certain risk in giving your team the freedom to pursue their ideas while still keeping their eyes on the final goal.

But this is how innovation happens.

Without a degree of empowerment granted to your team members, you’ll end up managing a group of people who do their jobs, and nothing more.

Engagement and empowerment are tied together. And since engagement breeds new ideas and improvements, it’s in your interest to empower your team and allow them that type of creative freedom in coming up with solutions to problems they encounter.

Use these 8 tips to build a fantastic IT team where you count on each member to add value and maximum productivity to the projects you bring to life.

tess pajaron

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