Our education system is geared towards individual performance, so how and when do we learn how to manage a team?

Throughout education we are trained to do the best we can, alone. Academic qualifications are not normally based on team effort. This means that when we enter the world of work, we have little or no experience of managing a team.

School leavers receive no formal training or education in how to be a good leader; these are skills that are usually acquired during extra-curricular activities or sport.

As anyone who manages a team knows, leadership is absolutely a skill in itself. And in fact, once broken into components, team management can be taught to potential leaders as well as helping current leaders to manage more successfully.

The basic components in team management include a) things you need to DO with the team you are managing and b) the way you must BE as a leader.

So the art of managing a team is a combination of WHAT you do as well as WHO you are.

My Team Coaching Programme covers both of these two aspects and in this article I attempt to give you a flavour of both as a good foundation to team management (whether you’re new to managing a team or not) and therefore improve the output of yourself and your team.

a) WHAT you do

Who are you managing?

I define a team as a group of people who need to work together to reach a common goal. Often the leaders I coach have a couple of different teams that report to them and perhaps a single expert who is a resource to a much wider group of people. They are not managing one team but several teams. Back to basics here: its important to treat each distinct team separately as their — and your — goals will be different.

Create a vision together

Hold a team meeting in a place that has lots of windows, ideally in a meeting room that is high up with views. This atmosphere is conducive to people being able to visualise the future. Ask the team to close their eyes and imagine walking into the future and seeing how the team and its output could be in an ideal world. Together, discuss and record the key elements of your joint vision.

Create SMART goals together

(SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.)

Pick your top three highest priority goals as a team. Ask:

  • What is our purpose?
  • Why are we paid by this organisation to come to work?

Write down the team’s top three priorities in a way that is very specific. Every goal needs a time limit. When managing a team, it’s vital that the team know when they’ve reached the goals so ask: ‘How will we know when we’ve got there?’ A goal to ‘improve customer service’ is not SMART but if the goal becomes ‘Create a new script for each customer service rep and training course by 1st December 2017’ then this is a SMART goal. When managing a team, the team need to know WHAT to do in order to reach the goal.

b) WHO you are

Subconscious behaviours

As you are managing a team of people who will copy your behaviours and pick up your attitude, you need to be highly aware of what you are doing and thinking.

If the manager of a team is always 10 minutes late to meetings, then the rest of the team will start to be late too. If you secretly think the work your team does is boring, then the team will start to feel the same way.

Profile your team

Write down your TRUE beliefs about yourself as a leader and what you really think about each person in your team. Privately write the first few thoughts that come into your mind as these will be the habitual thoughts that are in your subconscious all day long!

These thoughts will show you any negativity that you are holding. Your thoughts create reality, so if you consider one person in your team to be useless, then they will continue to under-perform. Once you start to focus on any of their good points, they will feel your change of attitude towards them and start to try harder.


Team management is a complex job involving psychological and emotional maturity in the leader as well as an understanding of personal development and group dynamics.

The skills of managing a team successfully CAN be trained, but this article just skims the surface.

For more information on managing a team and leadership development, contact Rebecca Watson. Team and Leadership Coaching sessions are available in person, via telephone or Skype.