Working with a small team should never stop you from being able to pull off the big things you’ve always dreamed of. However, working with a limited set of resources creates a bunch of challenges that can be hard to overcome. That’s why we’ve put together this list of our top team building, task management, and strategic planning tips that will allow you to harness the full power and productivity of your team. Read on for more.
Strategic Planning and Common Goals
Our first tip for effective team management and how to maximize your team’s productivity is strategic planning. We cannot stress this point enough: If you want your team to achieve great things, it is absolutely vital that you work with them to come up with a clear and concise strategic plan of your vision for the company, and how you expect to get there.
Long-term strategic planning
Start by figuring out your vision for your company/business. As the head of your team, it’s important that you come up with a realistic set of goals that you want your company to fullfill. You should have a clear list of roughly three to five objectives that you want to achieve every quarter, every six months, and every year. Think of this as a birds-eye view of what the company is working on.
Doing this will help you to direct your team and let them know what you your expectations are. Once you have come up with these goals, make sure you run them past your team. Be clear about what you want, and be realistic; making your dreams a reality takes time, and having a clear and concise long-term strategic plan is essential in order to keep everyone focused.
Short-term strategic planning
Once you have your long-term strategic plan down and have shared it with your team, it is important that everyone completes their own personal short-term strategic plans as well. These should chip away at the smaller tasks that will lead the company to achieve its long-term goals. Each team member should do this on a daily and monthly basis.
The daily stratetic plan works almost like a to-do list, and it’s important that you get yourself and your team members into the habit of completing these plans at the beginning of each day. Everybody should note what they will be working on during the day, and in what order. Doing so allows your mind to stop thinking about everything you have to do and instead spend more time on actually getting things done.
Your monthly strategic plan should then outline anywhere from one to five priorities or goals that you are working on. This plan is different from your daily strategic plan as it generally outlines what it is that you are trying to achieve, not what tasks you are completing in order to achieve it.
For example, a sales rep may be working on a specific client opportunity in their daily plan, but in the monthly plan, that would be covered under the broad goal of their “Seasonal Sales Focus.” The goals you outline in your monthly strategic plan should be in line with the long-term strategic plan that you shared with your team.
Once you understand the big picture of what it is you actually want your company to do, you can start looking at other ways to improve your team management.
Team Building: Clarity and Communication
One of the most important factors that determines how successfully and productively a team works together is clear communication. Everyone should know what their role is, what is expected of them, and where they can go for help. When that is not the case, it can be really easy for your team members to get overwhelmed and feel lost, lose motivation, and ultimately be unproductive. Clarity and communication are even more important in the events industry as one person is usually responsible for multiple tasks (eg. your content writer might also be running all of your social media marketing campaigns).
Clarity in emails/chat conversations
One of the first places we suggest people look when they want to tighten up their communication skills is their emails/chat messages. This is usually the first way to inform your colleagues or employees of something you want done or something they should be aware of, and plays a huge part in effective team management.
Before you send out an email or chat message, take some time to look over it. If you are sending someone a task, ask yourself “is it clear what I want this person to do?” If you are simply informing them of something, make sure you actually say that in the email or message so the other person isn’t left guessing. This may seem basic, and it really is, but taking an extra two minutes to actually do it can save the person on the other end a bunch of time. Below are some tips that we use in our workplace in order to clarify our email/chat communications.
1. Email/chat subject headings:
The subject of an email or chat is the first thing somebody sees in their inbox, and you should be using this to clearly summarize what the thread/message is about. We like to use some words as prefixes in our email subjects for extra clarity. For example, when we are sending somebody a task, we like to use the prefix “do” at the beginning of the subject to let the other person know that we need them to do something. If we are informing somebody of something (such as sending them a meeting summary), we like to use the prefix “FYI” to communicate that.
You can use whatever words you like here, but make sure your team knows what they mean and actually sticks to using them for your email/chat communications to be really clear. For example, you might want to use “opinion” at the beginning of an email to let somebody know that you need them to weigh in on an idea you have.
2. CC’ing and forwarding emails/chat messages:
This is really important for our company: We do not CC anyone in an email/chat message unless it is absolutely necessary. We also do not simply forward long email threads to other people and expect them to make sense of the mess. Deciphering an email thread between multiple people is painstaking work and takes up a lot of time, and simply forwarding a long conversation to someone else and expecting them to understand it is inconsiderate.
This is what we do instead: If you do need to forward an email conversation to someone, include a clear and concise summary of the conversation at the top of the email. Doing so takes a lot less time than it would take the other person to fight his way through the thread in order to know what is going on. Also remember to use a prefix in the subject line as we mentioned before so that the person receiving the email is clear on what is needed/expected from him/her.
If you are CC’ing someone in a message, or sending an email to multiple people, address them individually and tell them what you’d like them to do so everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.
Clarity and structure in meetings
At myZone, we have weekly team meetings that take no longer than 15 minutes. In these meetings, every team member is expected to outline their priorities to the rest of the team and communicate any issues or problems they are facing (we call these roadblocks). This is a great team management strategy that keeps everyone informed on what is happening around them and ensures everyone is working towards a common goal. The short time limit for these meetings also teaches your team to be concise and clear.
Make sure you and your team members understand the structure of these meetings and you’ll be able to cover a lot of ground in little time. We also recommend using an online conferencing software such as GoToMeeting to host these meetings as it is much more convenient (and courteous) than expecting everyone to meet at a physical location.
Task Management and Effective Documentation
Our final tip for anyone looking to imrpove their team’s productivity is this; teach ALL of your employees to be great project managers. This is extremely important in the events industry as many of your team members will probably be working on multiple projects simultaneously. This is even more likely when you are working with a small team, as you may be relying on everyone to wear multiple hats and play multiple roles. The easiest way we found to ensure that everyone in our team can successfully manage their workload is by tracking their projects through task management software such as Asana, and by documenting any clear/simple processes.
Project management in Asana
We use Asana as a simple way for everyone to manage their individual workloads, and consider it a really effective team management tool. The software lets you easily create and assign tasks to anyone in your team, and tasks can easily be organized in different project folders so that everyone can get a clear idea of what needs to be done.
You can set due dates to individual tasks and add any team members as task “followers” if you need them to be aware of what is going on. Probably the best function of Asana is that it also incomperates a chat thread with every task so that you can easily and directly communicate with your team members about what they are working on. Asana also makes it easy to share files; you can simply upload a variety of documents (such as pictures, text files, videos, presentations, spreadsheets, etc.) to an individual task from your personal computer or even Google Drive.
Asana is automatically synced with your email account, and sends you an email when someone has updated a task that is assigned to you, or that you are following. We use it to manage the many different divisions of our company and would recommend using software such as this to anyone who is looking to improve their team’s productivity.
For a more detailed description on how Asana works, click here.
Please note: This article is produced completely independently and our company has no relationship to the team who created Asana. We simply use the software, and would reccommend it to others.
We believe effective documentation is vital if you want your small team to flourish. It is a big part of our business model and our team management strategy, and we count on every one of our team members to document any processes.
Everyone at myZone is expected to document anything that they do regularly. For example, a member of our customer service team may create a document on how to process a refund. Similarly, our content team may document tasks such as posting on this blog, or how to update certain parts of a web page. This is extremely important for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it saves time. Remember, you are working with a small team and with limited resources. Your most valuable resource is time, and you do not want your team members caught up explaining simple processes to one another over and over again. Simply explain the process clearly in a document (we use Google Docs) and share it with the relevant people.
Secondly, clear documentation comes in extremely handy if/when you are planning to expand your team. If somebody new joins your company, you can simply send them any relevant documents and they can easily get caught up on everything they need to know.
Finally, having everyone look at just one document that clearly explains one process is a great way to make sure you team is on the same page. Nothing is more confusing than multiple people explaining the same process to one person.
While this is not a complete list, we believe it covers some of the most important aspects of successfull team management. We use these strategies ourselves, and would reccommend them to any nightlife professional who wants to learn to maxmimize their limited resources and reap big rewards. If you have any extra tips that you think we missed and would like to share, let us know in the comments below.