3 Ways to Improve Team Collaboration and Succeed With Team Management Software
TEAM MANAGEMENT is one of the foundations of business success. In fact, the exceptional talent management skills are considered one of the top abilities of an inspiring leader.
In their book “Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader”, authors Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback went as far as to name effective team management skills to be the first imperative of becoming a great leader.
Managing a team might seem like an easy and straightforward process. In reality, it’s a multilevel challenge that needs to be addressed on both micro and macro levels.
A great team leader grasps their team’s capabilities and inspires people to become better at their jobs, constantly challenging them to reach new heights. To commit to a mutual goal and support each other throughout the process, teams need a way of collaborating that goes further than Excel spreadsheets and Slack messages (Don’t take it the wrong way. We still love you, Slack).
Where notes and spreadsheets fall through, team management software enters the game. The uppermost benefits of these apps alike to project management tools depend on the team’s goals, the extent of work, and other factors such as the number of team members along with the hierarchies and relationships in between.
The universal advantages of work management software include many. To start, we’ll discuss how a well-chosen tool can enhance collaboration and communication between teams of all characteristics.
A higher level of collaboration
We all know what a busy day at the office looks like. You start to work on a task that has been on hold already for a week, and suddenly people start coming in with all kinds of questions considering your mutual projects. The result? – nobody gets anything done.
Organized communication is one of the indispensable elements of a well-oiled team-machine. While meetings often fail to achieve the anticipated results (they’re considered the biggest time-waster at work) and one-on-one conversations seize too much time, team collaboration software help to solve the perpetual problem.
But even team collaboration software such as Slack should be used in a more organized way. There’s no use of switching to Slack if colleagues’ questions and remarks still keep distracting others from work. We suggest that every team leader should establish one or two hours every day when team members are allowed to ask each other questions and discuss their projects.
As a Googler suggested in a letter to their colleagues, we need to allow ourselves at least a few hours of “Make Time” every day. By “Make Time” he meant the time when we’re free to focus on underlying projects without the likelihood of being distracted over and over again.
Here’s a quote from the letter:
“Ok. Great idea. I’ll do that . . . you know . . . later . . . I’m late for a meeting.
No. It doesn’t work that way. The only way to make this successful is to be purposeful. Establish an implementation intention. You need to define precisely when and where you’ll reserve Make Time for your projects.”
Team management software can help establish the time for collaborating with the colleagues while also provides the opportunity to book a few hours in a shared calendar to reserve personal “Make Time” (and actually get some work done).
It is critical that all team members understand the importance of “Make Time” and respect their co-worker’s time. To make the announcement and establish new rules, team leaders can use a note-sharing app or the shared notes option of many team management tools that let them distribute the latest news (or documents) in a shared newsfeed.
We already briefly mentioned the micromanaging of a large team. Often, the greatest mistake leaders make is to look at the team as an entity instead of many people with varying personalities and aspirations.
They’re not to blame – managing a team of over 20 people leaves no time for focusing on every individual. Unless there’s a helpful tool for organizing and tracking everyone’s achievements and work progress.
The next generation of team management tools has a built-in capability to manage projects and tasks in a highly organized way. This includes assigning tasks and working on shared projects, prioritizing work according to long-term goals, and tracking everyone’s work progress.
There is no one right way of managing project and tasks. It all depends on the team’s skills as well as the nature and the extent of the project.
For example, a creative agency might be interested in tracking multiple projects and billing their clients based on project hours. This means creating multiple shared projects with tasks assigned to people in keeping with their skill set and job.
Generally, team management tools are used for creating structured and prioritized task lists and collaborating on these in a more informed way. Imagine working with 5 team members on a shared task. As each completes their share or makes an update, everyone concerned will receive a notification and know where they stand.
The opportunity to assign tasks gives team leaders the privilege to engage in everyone’s work and ensure that everything gets done. The record-keeping system of completed tasks also motivates team members to bring their best self to the set as their results are publicly shared with others.
There’s a fine balance between becoming the Big Brother spying on lower-level workers and being a motivating team leader. Before committing to any work tracking system, managers need to establish a clear understanding of the reasons and outcomes of doing so.
One way of openly talking about everyone’s work performance and mutual achievements is a team dashboard. Like other types of KPI dashboards, it displays real-time data in the form of business metrics, charts, and graphs to give an instant overview of month-over-month performance and recent progress. There are team management tools that already include a dashboard option, making data sharing increasingly effortless.
INFOGRAPHIC: Why Your Teamwork Isn’t Working
Agile data management
That’s a big promise to make. And an absurd one.
Even today it is nearly impossible to manage data and projects without using any spreadsheets. However, you should know that nearly 90% of corporate Excel spreadsheets contain errors. Which leaves us with an incredibly high possibility of making mistakes along the way.
Efficient team management involves a lot of papers, spreadsheets, and documents that need to be stored so that finding them the next time wouldn’t take hours worth of search.
The easiest way is to establish an organized folder system in a cloud storage system, for example, Dropbox. To have even quicker access to all the files, many teams opt for collaboration software that has an integration with storage systems, making file sharing effortless and effective.
Often, team management tools offer a built-in file storage system as well. However, these should be considered with a pinch of salt – what happens if the company decides to stop using the tool? The best practice is to store all the files in shared Dropbox or Google Drive folders and find a team management tool that integrates with the chosen storage system.
But files aren’t the only type of data that team leaders need to handle day-by-day. In addition to traditional files, there’s the data about everyone’s vacations, completed tasks and projects, work hours, etc. This data can be analyzed and used to improve the quality and effectiveness of long-term goals.
Many team management tools generate work and task reports based on the team member’s mutual or personal achievements. These reports can be used to get more insight into the types of tasks, projects, and events that took the best of the team’s time. Managers find these reports particularly useful when it comes to evaluating the ROI of specific projects and even teams.
It is hard to tell who benefits the most of a comprehensive team management software solution. Is it the team leaders for whose point of view half of their workload seems to vanish? Is it the team members who have better means of collaboration and more time to focus on their projects? Or is it the organization that saves millions of dollars worth of resources otherwise allocated to wrong goals?
The right answer lies in between. There are various aspects of team management tools that serve the interests of all parties considered.
The commitment to find the right software and get through the first few months of transaction period is well worth the effort. Think of team management software as a long-term investment that pays back in years to come.