In the Lead: 5 Ways to Master the Art of Team Management

December 1, 2017

Becoming a manager is more than just a title change. It’s exciting and rewarding, and there’s no looking back. From this point forward, you’re no longer the person looking up with questions, you’re the person people look to for answers.

This necessary career step can be a challenging one, but by embracing it with open arms and the help of a few easy tips, this new role can also offer a wealth of personal and professional growth opportunities for both you and your team.

• Schedule recurring check-in meetings. 

This one may seem simple, but it’s all too easy for your desk to turn into a black hole of emails and deadlines, especially as responsibilities grow. Head down and in the zone may get the work done, but it also completely tunes out your team and can lead to feelings of resentment.

It’s not always possible to walk around to each person’s desk or pick up the phone for a daily catchup, but putting recurring weekly meetings on the books ensures that you and your team remain aligned on immediate projects and dedicate meaningful face time to each other. It’s also helpful to schedule three-month check-ins to go more in depth into a person’s progress and exchange thoughts about the current work dynamic. It can be as official as an in-office meeting or as casual as grabbing a cup of coffee. The setting won’t matter as much as the conversation.

• Balance work and play.

Some people — OK, it’s Michael Corleone from “The Godfather” — like to say “it’s not personal, it’s strictly business.” If you’re a good manager, though, then it’s both. Today, I can have a sensitive conversation with a team member about their work one day and enjoy drinks with them at happy hour the next while still maintaining a healthy work relationship.

However, that wasn’t always the case. I definitely had to crawl before I could walk in this role as a manager and mentor. It’s important to set a precedent with your team as soon as you become a manager — that you’ve gone from a direct peer to a supervisor and are looking for quality work, as well as respect. Don’t throw pleasantries and camaraderie out the window with this new title; be more aware of your tone and actions, as they influence the larger team. Your colleagues are now looking to you to lead and, at the end of the day, you will benefit much more from a friendly boss than a boss who is a friend.

• Make your own management style.

You know what’s great about being a manager? You are not alone! To get to this place, you’ve undoubtedly already had a few managers of your own. You’ve learned what works — and what doesn’t work — and can use these experiences to develop your own personal management style.

When I first started with Litzky Public Relations, I learned some invaluable lessons from my own manager that still resonate today. For instance, I discovered that setting a good example is the best way to teach someone else. I listened intently to every client call my manager led and learned how to channel her command to influence my own conversations with our clients.

When starting out, take a few moments to list the best takeaways from predecessors to set the foundation for the type of manager you’d like to be to your own team. Whatever your style may be, and however you and your team best work together, go with it. There isn’t a rule book. 

• Understand that managers make mistakes — good ones learn from them.

This one needs little explanation, but it does need constant reminding. You’re not perfect; neither is your team. Both of you will make bad judgment calls at least once and especially as you all continue to grow within the agency and challenge each other. Take it easy on yourself and others enough so that you’re able to learn from these mistakes — don’t constantly penalize yourself and your team for them. And do what good managers do best: Identify the issue, address it quickly and move on.

• Know when to walk away.

When a planned vacation approaches, I always get mixed feelings of excitement and dread. I look forward to stepping away from the office and relaxing with family and friends, but am also nervous about leaving my team for an extended period of time. Who will answer their questions? Who will keep things on schedule? Who will manage client communications? Surprise: They will!

Going off the grid, or at least stepping back from a project a bit, may seem terrifying, but it offers one of the best opportunities for your team to flourish. Under your management, you’ve already given them the tools they need to succeed and the confidence to go with their gut. Let them. More likely than not, they’ll use the opportunity to confront any of their own personal doubts and turn them into solutions. You’ll also be priming your team to become leaders themselves. To help ease these feelings, my team and I have created a new protocol and send a summary of projects and next steps both before and after an extended period away from the office so that everyone’s kept in the loop.

Marissa Connelly

Marissa Connelly is an account supervisor at Litzky Public Relations in Hoboken, N.J., where she leads accounts including Hasbro’s Star Wars and Marvel brands to NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness and National Geographic Partners. Her work has ranged from executing high-profile events, successful creative campaigns and strong media relations, and her time with the agency has only been enhanced by becoming a manager to her team.


Kashia M. Simmons, APR+M says:

Point #1 about recurring meetings is strangely really important. After leading a team for 11 years, I took a non-supervisory job in a larger organization where my current manager has weekly check-ins. Sometimes they're short, but they have set in stone a perspective that she is both interested an what I'm doing and my perspective and expects progress. These are a great combo for your point #2. It is personal and it is business. We spend too much time with our colleagues to not be able to speak candidly without ill will. Certainly a couple points I've added to my tool bag. Thanks for sharing!

Oct. 11, 2018

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