The success of a business or project often depends on the team working on it – if the team is unorganized, unfocused, and disoriented, the business or project often have no other choice but to fail spectacularly.

In such a poor team, deadlines get missed, priorities get overlooked, and proper organization and communication are scarce – as the overall consequence of poor teamwork, the professional reputation of your business takes a hit, and your client pool starts to shrink.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, you’ll need to improve your team’s workflow and introduce proper team management into your organization – here’s everything you need to know about how to manage a team successfully:

  • What is team management?
  • Why is team management important?
  • What does a management team do?
  • What are team management styles?
  • What is effective team management?
  • What are the key management skills?

What is team management?

What is team management

Team management is the ability to perform a number of activities that ensure a group of people carry out their work as planned.

It can be carried out by an individual or organization – in gist, it involves various organization and administration activities, including:

✅ activities that facilitate teamwork

✅ setting team priorities

✅ making sure the team priorities are carried out

✅ setting objectives

✅ efficient communication

✅ performance appraisals

Why is team management important?

Why is team management important_

Team management is important for an organization for 4 crucial reasons:

  1. It facilitates effective team building
  2. It boosts productivity
  3. It promotes and encourages learning
  4. It improves employee satisfaction

1. Facilitating effective team building 👨‍👨‍👧‍👦

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

You can never stress the importance of proper teamwork in an organization enough – and team management facilitates teamwork through effective team building.

Team management makes sure that the right person does the right job – i.e. that his or her experience, education, and skills align with the expected results of the tasks.

And, when everyone performs the job they were trained and hired to do, employees are happier and generally more willing to cooperate with each other – resulting in better teamwork on the whole.

2. Boosting productivity ⌚

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

It goes without saying that two heads think better than one – they also perform faster and are more likely to deliver quality results.

Team management and its implied chain of task allocation make sure the right people are paired up to craft new ideas and find efficient solutions to problems.

All of this results in a quicker turnover and fewer time-consuming do-overs.

3. Promoting and encouraging learning 🏫

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

A team that is constantly learning is constantly improving – and team management encourages learning, growth, and development of both the team and individuals within that team.

This is because proper team management encourages employee training, discussions, and a constant flow of information – all of which improve the teams’ knowledge and experience.

4. Improving employee satisfaction 🌻

“Think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures.” – Jackson Brown Jr.

Proper team management is concerned with finding the best ways to make a group of individuals work together as a team.

This may involve team building activities, appraisals where they’re due, as well as cultivating a supportive, transparent team atmosphere.

A group of individuals who feel comfortable working together in a team will be happier at work as a result – and they’ll also always show better results.

Clockify pro tip

The importance of team management for a successful business is undeniable – if you’re looking to improve your team management further, then check out our guide to the best team management software.

What does a management team do?

What does a management team do_

We’ve established what team management is, and why it’s important – now let’s see how team management works on a larger scale, in the form of a management team.

A management team is a group of managers that belong to the same organizational level – they meet up on a regular basis to share new information, make reports to their superiors, and make decisions that affect the company on the whole.

There are 5 types of management teams:

  1. Staff management teams – They run individual departments. Their set of skills, abilities, and experience is specialized and tied to the department they are running.
  2. Line management teams – They run specific departments, i.e. the ones that are involved in producing, delivering, and selling the company’s products (usually applies to companies that make physical products).
  3. Boards – They are usually in charge of overseeing work and governance, and they meet up to make joint-decisions about the subjects they’re in charge of.
  4. Councils – They are usually in charge of providing advice and input, as well as coordinating company-wide activities. They also meet up to make join-decisions about the subjects they’re in charge of.
  5. Teams of executives – They are the top management group in an organization, and are in charge of making company-wide decisions together.

The elements that make a management team successful…

Here’s a checklist showing what each successful management team needs to have:

The ability to define the company or organization goals precisely.

The basic understanding of the priority activities the organization needs to focus on in order to reach the desired goals.

Access to information crucial for making informed decisions.

 Efficient cooperation that facilitates the process of achieving team goals.

✅  An efficient way of processing the information crucial for achieving team goals.

✅  A workflow that makes sure that decisions made get turned into concrete actions.

That’s the theory about management within an organization, but practice is always more important.

And, bear in mind that each management team and the individual manager has its own way of managing teams, projects, and tasks.

This is also known as a personal team management style.

Team management styles

What are team management styles_

There are 9 main team management styles you can implement:

  1. Coaching 
  2. Laissez-Faire
  3. Democratic
  4. Visionary
  5. Transformational
  6. Transactional
  7. Servant
  8. Autocratic
  9. Pace-setting

Each has its pros and cons, but some are more efficient than others:

1. Coaching team management style 

“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” ― Sheryl Sandberg

ℹ️ What’s it about? This team management style is focused on maintaining the employee’s professional development in the long run.

Famous Coach leader: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

What are these managers like? Coaching team managers like to pass on their knowledge and then watch their teachings result in employee growth. They overlook short term problems and failures because they expect their employees to learn from their mistakes and get better over time.

How do these managers provide motivation? Coaching team managers like to motivate their employees through a combination of rewards and trust – in the form of promotions and more responsibilities.

✅ Pros:

  • It produces a positive environment in the workplace
  • The employees always know what the managers expect from them
  • The employees grow and develop their skill sets

❌ Cons:

  • It may take some time to prove efficient
  • The mentoring approach may not work for some employees
  • It requires specific coaching for each specific situation

The overall level of effectiveness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5

2. Laissez-Faire (Let do) team management style

“Not doing what we love in the name of greed is very poor management of our lives.” ― Warren Buffett

ℹ️ What’s it about? This team management style grants employees almost complete freedom to do what they think they should do – the teams are self-directed, and there is no overseeing and interference.

Famous Laissez-Faire leader: Warren Buffett, business magnate

What are these managers like? Laissez-Faire team managers like to give their employees complete freedom in how they’ll handle their assignments – they only interfere if there is a problem, or if their teams specifically ask them for more directions.

How do these managers provide motivation? Laissez-Faire team managers expect their teams to find their own motivation for their work.

✅ Pros:

  • It promotes innovation and creativity
  • The employees can focus on the work they feel the most passionate about
  • It allows employees to experiment when looking for the right solution

❌ Cons:

  • Experiments can go wrong, which results in a lot of wasted time
  • Not suitable for an inexperienced team who needs more guidance
  • Potentially risky, as the managers may not learn about huge problems until late into the project

The overall level of effectiveness: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5

3. Democratic team management style

“I ask everyone’s opinion when they don’t speak up. And then when they have an opinion, I’ll ask others to talk about it.” ― Ginni Rometty

ℹ️ What’s it about? This team management style pursue the notion that everyone should have a say in an organization, regardless of their title in the company – the best idea always wins, no matter who brought it to the table. 

Famous Democratic leader: Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM

What are these managers like? Democratic team managers like to give their employees every chance to share their ideas and contribute to the company’s growth.

How do these managers provide motivation? Democratic team managers motivate their employees by making everyone equal in terms of participation.

✅ Pros:

  • The employees feel valued and appreciated
  • It promotes innovation and creativity
  • It encourages responsibility and decision-making

❌ Cons:

  • It may take some time to prove efficient
  • It may trigger resentfulness in employees who think their ideas are never taken into consideration
  • Not suitable if you often have to make fast decisions

The overall level of effectiveness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5

4. Visionary team management style

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” ― Henry Ford

ℹ️ What’s it about? This team management style involves defining a vision and overall strategy and then letting the employees work the way they see fit – however, there are regular progress checkups.

Famous Visionary leader: Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company 

What are these managers like? Visionary team managers like to make sure the employees know the overall vision of the company or project – but they don’t micromanage every detail.

How do these managers provide motivation? Visionary team managers motivate employees by giving them full autonomy over the work – the employee’s self-direction takes it over from there in providing motivation.

✅ Pros:

  • The employees are encouraged to find goals and solutions that suit everyone in the team
  • It facilitates team building
  • It’s great for implementing changes in the company

❌ Cons:

  • Great visions don’t always lead to great actions
  • Not suitable for new teams who need more direction
  • The details left unattended during regular check-ups may lead to serious problems later

The overall level of effectiveness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5

5. Transformational team management style

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” ― Steve Jobs

ℹ️ What’s it about? This team management style emphasizes changes, innovations, and growth as the best way to cultivate an efficient organization.

Famous Transformational leader: Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple

What are these managers like? Transformational team managers like to inspire their teams to develop their skills and improve their performance – by having high expectations.

How do these managers provide motivation? Transformational team managers motivate their employees by constantly raising the bar – as a result, employees feel motivated to work harder to reach new milestones.

✅ Pros:

  • It helps you assess the company’s situation quickly
  • The constant innovations trigger passion
  • The constant  innovation trigger an enthusiastic environment

❌ Cons:

  • The bigger picture diverts from your attention to the problematic details within the team
  • Some managers may abuse the transformational management style, and come to expect too much from their teams
  • Depending too much on passion may make you overestimate the realistic reach of your company

The overall level of effectiveness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3.5/5

6. Transactional team management style

“As the company has grown, we have continually worked to have an organization within an organization. Small teams can communicate efficiently and aren’t encumbered by a big structure slowing them down.” ― Bill Gates

ℹ️ What’s it about? This team management style is focused on making results by implementing a reward-penalty system, as well as establishing a clear structure and hierarchy in the team. 

Famous transactional leader: Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation

What are these managers like? Transactional team managers like to set criteria and requirements the team needs to reach – the employees get a performance review based on whether they met the set criteria and requirements.

How do these managers provide motivation? Transactional team managers motivate their employees by providing an extrinsic reward if they do well (promotions and money rewards) and penalties if they perform subpar.

✅ Pros:

  • It gets easier to achieve short-term goals
  • Great for organizations with repetitive tasks
  • Great for overtime work

❌ Cons:

  • After some time, the effect of such extrinsic rewards may wear off
  • Not sustainable for longer time periods
  • Not suitable for promoting innovation and creativity

The overall level of effectiveness: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5

7. Servant team management style

“Leadership is not about your ambition. It is about bringing out the ambitions of your team.” ― Cheryl Bachelder

ℹ️ What’s it about? This team management style implies a manager “serving” the team – this involves mentoring, supporting, and advising the team.

Famous Servant leader: Cheryl Bachelder, former CEO of Popeyes

What are these managers like? Servant team managers like to put their team first and the tasks they perform second.

How do these managers provide motivation? Keeping employees happy makes them more motivated to perform their tasks.

✅ Pros:

  • The team’s requests and ideas are discussed at length
  • Great emphasis on building a healthy team culture
  • Great emphasis on learning from one’s mistakes

❌ Cons:

  • It may take longer to make decisions
  • The manager loses formal authority
  • No official pressure for the employees to perform well

The overall level of effectiveness: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5

8. Autocratic team management style

“You can have your titular recognition. I’ll take money and power.” ― Helen Gurley Brown

ℹ️ What’s it about? This team management style implies clear directions to team and complete control over what they do and over what should be done.

Famous Autocratic leader: Helen Gurley Brown, editor in Chief of “Cosmopolitan”

What are these managers like? Autocratic team managers like to have complete power in making decisions, and they expect no advice, ideas, and input from people they are managing.

How do these managers provide motivation? Autocratic team managers expect their employees to find motivation for their work themselves.

✅ Pros:

  • Effective in cultures that expect the managers to have higher-level power
  • May prove effective for new employees who need more guidance and direction
  • Provides clarity and structure for employees

❌ Cons:

  • A generally demotivating team management style
  • May trigger low employee engagement – and a lack of innovative ideas great for company growth
  • Leads to micromanagement

The overall level of effectiveness: ⭐⭐ 2/5

9. Pace-setting team management style

“Don’t manage ― lead change before you have to.”― Jack Welch

ℹ️ What’s it about? This team management style implies the manager is the ultimate leader who sets a pace for work and expects the employees to follow the said pace.

Famous Pace-setting leader: Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric

What are these managers like? Pace-setting team managers like to set high standards, as well as set a challenging pace.

How do these managers provide motivation? The high standards and fact pace motivate the employees to work hard in order to keep up with the rest of the team.

✅ Pros:

  • Great for tackling demanding challenges and short term goals
  • The manager’s pace-setting position serves as a model to others
  • Great for new, inexperienced employees who need more guidance

❌ Cons:

  • Not sustainable in the long run (higher risk of burnout)
  • The emphasis on personal successes (rather than team efforts) may lead to resentment and unhealthy competition
  • The manager performs a lot of the work that could better be delegated to some other team members

The overall level of effectiveness: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5

So, how do the different team management styles stack up against each other? Well, let’s look at their overall levels of effectiveness:

  1. Coaching: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5
  2. Visionary: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5
  3. Democratic: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5
  4. Transformational: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3.5/5
  5. Servant: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5
  6. Laissez-Faire: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5
  7. Transactional: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5
  8. Pace-setting: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5
  9. Autocratic: ⭐⭐ 2/5

The bottom team management styles may prove efficient under certain circumstances or in smaller doses but are generally too rigid (or too flexible, like in the case of the Laissez-Faire style).

They’re less motivational, and leave room for a lot of wasted time in order to be efficient over a longer period of time.

Task delegation is often side-lined, and check-ups and control are either too frequent or too infrequent to give the best team management results.

On the other hand, the higher-level team management styles are more complex, flexible, yet still enough hands-on on the part of the manager.

Proper task delegation is emphasized, and check-ups are regular without being too intrusive.

Clockify pro tip

As the best team management styles imply motivation is important for successful team management – check out our research-based Motivation guide about how best to trigger motivation in your team and make sure everyone stays motivated in the long run.

What is effective team management? And what makes an effective team manager?

What is effective team management_

Some team management styles may be better than others – but, the steps and skills you need to undertake on the road to efficient team management are always fool-proof.

In gist, effective team management is a complex system you can easily acquire if you follow the right patterns.

Let’s say you have 10 people in your team that need to report to you about the progress with a client project on a regular basis.

Your responsibility as an efficient team manager is to make sure:

  • The team understands their responsibilities.
  • The team is happy with their responsibilities.
  • You share the workload equally.
  • You assign tasks to the team members who have the skills, abilities, and experience to tackle said tasks best.
  • You take the team’s ideas into consideration.
  • You provide incentives to help motivate the team.
  • You organize team bonding activities that improve the team’s efficiency.

The listed elements are just the outcome of efficient team management you need to checkmark – you’ll also need to nurture certain key management skills throughout your career if you want to be efficient and successful:

What are the key management skills?

What are the key management skills_

Having the right team management skills is crucial for your success as a team manager. These skills are typically divided into three types of skills:  technical skills, conceptual skills, and human (interpersonal) skills.

Technical skills 🖱️

Technical skills involve the knowledge to use a variety of techniques in order to reach the team’s goals:

  • operating software
  • operating machines
  • using production tools
  • boosting sales
  • marketing

Usually, it’s the first-level managers who need to possess technical skills – as they progress across the management ladder, the need for technical skills decreases.

Conceptual skills 🌌

Conceptual skills involve the ability to formulate ideas and think about:

  • diagnosing problems in a concept
  • analyzing problems in a concept
  • finding creative solutions to problems
  • predicting and preventing similar problems in the future

These skills are vital for any manager, especially those in charge of teams working on a dynamic and changeable project – for example, teams who develop apps.

Human (Interpersonal) skills 👩

Interpersonal skills involve the manager’s “people” skills:

  • efficiently communicating with team members
  • efficiently cooperating with team members
  • relating to team members’ problems and challenges
  • motivating team members to make the most of their potential

Human and interpersonal skills are important no matter what kind of manager you are – knowing how to communicate what you want the team to achieve often proves to be the most crucial set of skills of all.

The division into technical, conceptual and human team management skills is still just a broad one – there are 8 key management skills you’ll need to implement and practice in order to build an effective team management system:

Pacing your enthusiasm 🚶‍♀️

Instead of diving right into new work just because you’re excited about a fresh, new start, give yourself some time to think about how best to approach said work:

Divide the work into smaller stages.

Define tasks the team needs to finish in order to make each stage a success.

If possible, divide the tasks into smaller sub-tasks, to make them more manageable.

Make the effort to understand everyone’s roles in the project – then, think about how you should best delegate tasks according to your team’s strengths, skill sets, and abilities. You can use Clockify to assign people to tasks so that everyone knows who is in charge of what.

Considering that Clockify is also a team management software,  you can also best use it to make sure the team sticks to the plan and doesn’t get side-tracked – instruct your team to track time on the tasks they perform at work. This way, you’ll be able to track everyone’s progress and compile an archive of the tasks that have been performed thus far.

Setting realistic expectations 🎯

No matter how enthusiastic and understanding a manager everyone thinks you are, if you’re unable to define realistic goals… You won’t be a realistic manager.

So, always set goals your team has the skills and abilities to reach, as well as deadlines they can beat – and make sure you have realistic expectations of the outcomes and their results throughout the project.

Defining inspiring motivators ⛰️

Introducing the right motivators is a great way to inspire your team to strive for the best results – but, you’ll need to analyze the situation in order to figure out what kind of motivators would work best for your team.

Of course, raises, bonuses, and promotions are always a great reward for a job well done – when in doubt, that’s the way to go.

But, some team members may value other types of rewards even more:

  • A team member who has a long commute to work might appreciate the option to work from home from time to time the most.
  • Another team member may find praise for a great performance the most inspiring motivator.
  • Others may even appreciate it if you throw a pizza party or organize a fun bowling night when you finish a crucial stage of the project.

Once you understand what drives individual members of your team, it will get easier to motivate everyone out of a dead-end when times get tough.

Explaining the “why?” behind the “what?” 👩‍🏫

Defining tasks and assigning them to the members of your team is only half of the work – you’ll also need to make sure they all understand why their tasks are important for the project in the first place.

So, take the time at the beginning of the project to highlight the importance of each task – this way, you’ll underline the magnitude of the contribution to the project the team will make by working on said task.

Which can, in turn, serve as a great motivator.

Encouraging your team to pursue new knowledge 👨‍🎓

The right knowledge always makes the team faster and better – so make sure you encourage your team to learn about the innovations in the industry that can help you reach your goals faster and better:

  • Provide them with the right information.
  • Organize team training sessions.
  • Introduce your team to the productivity tools that will help you streamline your workflow.

As a result, you’ll equip your team with the right resources that ensure they’re able to make independent judgments in their work and make expected progress.

Building a team culture 👑

If the people in your team like working together, they’ll have better results at work.

So, don’t underestimate the power of great team culture – this includes beliefs, rules, attitudes,  and values you’ll want to work by.

Great team culture is one where people:

  • support each other
  • listen to each other
  • collaborate in order to reach their goals

It’s one that has a system for resolving disputes – a system that takes both sides of the argument into consideration.

Last, but not least, it’s a culture where people take breather time between projects to relax – and maybe even play a fun time management game or two together.

Providing feedback 📮

You can’t expect your team to go through the project blindly, without knowing whether they’re living up to the project expectations through each project stage.

So, make sure you provide timely feedback to all the members of our team.

Some may think that managers should only speak up to point out problems in the project.

Others believe managers should focus more on giving performance appraisals where they’re due.

But, you’d be better off if you were to mix the positive with the negative feedback and be honest in your reviews:

  • The positive feedback can serve as a great motivator to continue with great work.
  • The negative feedback can serve as teachable moments the team member can learn from in the future.

Being a model to your team 💪

Make sure your behavior sets a great example others are meant to follow:

  • Listen to your teams’ ideas – if you want them to listen to each other and collaborate well.
  • Provide help and guidance when asked – if you want them to help each other when they hit bumps on the road with their tasks.
  • Aim to expand your knowledge and emphasize the importance of constant learning and improving – if you want the team to be enthusiastic about their training.

In the end, any team will be only as good as the person managing it – so, make your contribution count.

Wrapping up…

Team management is the backbone of any business – it encompasses everything that helps your teams or the entire organization remain afloat through stormy times, and come at as winners in the end.

Proper team management gives you the following:

  • it makes team building possible
  • it improves productivity
  • it promotes learning
  • it makes teams happier and thus more likely to perform well

In gist, it does so by providing:

  • clear plans and goals
  • a comfortable, yet present team management style
  • realistic expectations
  • effective motivators
  • efficient cooperation
  • an explanation about the importance of tasks within a project
  • constant learning
  • positive and negative feedback
  • a manager who serves as a role-model that stands behind the team’s values and beliefs

Clockify pro tip

Effective team management is important for any business – but it’s not a one-size-fits-all system. If you’re looking for the best ways to manage teams under specific circumstances, we’ve got you covered with the following guides:

Managing a new team – how to do it?
Managing multicultural teams – how to do it?

Managing virtual teams – how to do it?
Managing freelancers – 8 steps for streamlining freelance workforce