If you lead an ICT team, the good news is that you don't have to do it all yourself!
Here are 10 ideas which I have found to be very helpful in creating a collaborative and co-operative team ethos.
1. Don’t shoot the messenger. Bad news is never nice to receive, but don’t fool yourself that ignorance is bliss. If you shoot the messenger, people will simply stop telling you things.
2. Delegate responsibilities, not just tasks. Ideally, you should develop your team members to the point where they can carry on without you – it means you can be ill without feeling like you need to drag yourself in, and go to conferences without feeling guilty.
3. Genuinely ask for advice, not as a token gesture to show that you’re “listening”. Anyone who feels the need to say “My door is always open” probably doesn’t mean it – otherwise why is it necessary to point it out?
4. Insist that team members to come to you with suggested solutions, not just problems. They’re intelligent, they’re experts and they’re being paid, and you’re not omniscient or omnipotent. If you were, why would you need a team in the first place?
5. Take managerial decisions based on the specialist/technical advice of your team members. Your experts can advise you, but you’re the manager, so you have to take the final decision.
6. Ask for regular updates/reports, but …
7. … Ask team members to summarise the issues on one side of paper or in half a dozen bullet points – or in a tweet or SMS message.
8. Give credit to others. If people on your team come up with brilliant ideas that work, that makes everyone look good. Claiming credit is a stupidly short-term strategy. I’ve been in situations where an idea I’ve suggested to the Deputy Head was brushed aside at the time, only to miraculously resurface a few days later as his idea. After that, I either suggested nothing or suggested ideas to as many people as publicly as possible.
9. Provide support, eg in buying the right software or making sure that the appropriate training is available. Especially the training. One thing I have always insisted on as a team manager/leader is that members of my team be allowed to have the professional development they need, be that a conference or a training course.
10. Back team members in public, castigate in private.
I hope you found this list useful Please share tips of your own, either in a comment or on your own blog, if you have one.
This is a variation of an article first published on 21 November 2008.