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Meetings & Communication

6 essential team management skills for effective leaders in 2024

Leapsome Team
6 essential team management skills for effective leaders in 2024
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It’s difficult to overstate how instrumental great managers are to business success — they drive profits and positive organizational outcomes while playing a key role in engagement, employee experience, and company culture.*

Though there’s something to be said for natural managerial talent, for the most part, skillful team leaders get to where they are because of a commitment to professional development, extensive experience, and a passion for making their team’s working lives more meaningful, enjoyable, and fulfilling. 

That’s why we created this detailed list of six team management skills that today’s managers and leaders should aim to develop. We’ve also explained why these capabilities are so crucial in the current world of work and offered suggestions to improve these much-needed competencies.

*Gallup, 2023

Why effective team management matters

Excellent team management is more than just coordinating a group of people to carry out tasks and reach goals. It goes much deeper. In reality, the goal is to unite professionals with varying strengths and weaknesses, getting the best out of them while making them feel psychologically safe and respecting their needs. It’s about enabling them to deliver the best possible results as well as grow in their careers.

Effective team management also has tangible positive effects on business outcomes and work environments, such as:

  • Better employee experience — Recent Gallup research uncovered that managers are one of the biggest contributing factors to a great employee experience, which extends through the recruitment, onboarding, performance, and departure stages. That just goes to show the significant impact one team lead’s managerial skills can have.
  • Increased resilience Organizational resilience is more important than ever for companies that want to survive and even thrive in a challenging and changeable economic climate. According to a 2023 McKinsey report, it’s key for organizations that want to build their resilience to have talented, adaptable leaders who are well-positioned to coach employees and nurture new behaviors and mindsets.
  • Higher engagement levels — Our State of People Enablement report found that only 37% of employees feel engaged at work, leaving a lot of room for improvement. SHRM has shown that positive experiences with managers play a significant role in engagement as they’re the individuals often responsible for Gallup Q12 elements like setting clear expectations, providing resources, and sharing feedback.

6 essential team management skills for leaders & managers

While this list is by no means exhaustive, the following capabilities are without a doubt essential for managers and leaders who want to make a positive impact on their organizations, successfully guide their reports and colleagues, and continue to thrive in an unsteady global economy.

Of course, different skills come naturally to different people, so managers may want to prioritize the abilities on this list that they’re least comfortable with to tackle first.

1. Clear, open communication

A screenshot of an interface from Leapsome's Learning module that shows a selection of GoodHabitz courses.
Leapsome’s Learning module offers a variety of communication-focused learning paths and a content library full of courses like this selection of GoodHabitz options

Excellent communication skills encompass much more than just the ability to speak well. They reflect someone’s ability to clearly and effectively exchange information through written, verbal, and/or physical language while also considering the motivations, emotions, and intentions behind the words or messages of others.

Of course, top-notch communication capabilities are vital for all professionals, but they’re especially paramount for managers and leaders, whose professional responsibilities depend heavily on excellent communication. Just a few examples include:

  • Information sharing — Managers often act as intermediaries and have to correctly comprehend and transmit information related to objectives, policies, and project updates from the C-suite to their teams and back again. In the context of communications in meetings, Omar Tawakol, CEO of Rembrand, recommends “working hard to uncover the core nugget in the last speaker’s message, then contributing a valuable point beyond it. Your focus on building up the conversation not only proves you’re listening but also forces you to stay engaged.”
  • Feedback and performance reviews — Though team leads aren’t the only people reviewing their reports within the framework of continuous performance management, they play a key role and are often responsible for communicating both formal and informal feedback. In fact, our Leapsome’s Workforce Trends report showed that one-third of employees are not satisfied with their organization’s performance review process, and a majority call for more frequent reviews. The best managers are also transparent about the feedback they receive in their leadership performance reviews. Using a tool like Leapsome’s Reviews module can help streamline the whole professional assessment process as it provides a high-level overview of team member performance in one intuitive dashboard.
  • Conflict resolution — Managers are often tasked with working out issues and disputes within or even across departments. Doing so respectfully and successfully involves facilitating conversations, guiding people to a mutual understanding, and implementing solutions. Team leads who want to hone their communication skills in these scenarios should consider setting up an informal coaching session with a peer who has a great approach to resolving conflict. They could also investigate active learning or mediation training resources.
💡 Pro tip: Managers spend as much as 35-50% of their working hours in meetings, giving them ample opportunity to improve their communication skills. However, in our Workforce Trends Report, employees reported that half of their meetings were a waste of time, with 1 in 3 meetings having no agenda. Implementing a tool like Leapsome’s Meetings module can help keep meetings productive as it enables team leaders to provide agendas ahead of time, track discussions and decisions, and take note of unresolved talking points.

2. Top-notch delegation capabilities

A screenshot of the action items interface from Leapsome’s Meetings module.
With the Meetings module’s action item dashboard, managers can access a quick overview of the tasks they’ve assigned
to colleagues and direct reports in meetings 

Effective delegation, or the ability to divide work into smaller tasks and assign them to various team members, is critical for any high-performing team. No matter how skilled a manager might be at their job, no one should be responsible for more work than they can reasonably handle. 

Delegation skills aren’t only important because they help team leads manage their workloads — they also allow reports to develop as professionals and take on new projects and tasks, avoiding micromanagement. Plus, when team members are truly collaborating as a result of effective delegation, they’ll feel more engaged and motivated because they’ll see how their efforts contribute to the group as a whole.

If you’re eager to improve your delegation skills — or guide managers you know in doing so — Forbes has compiled some great tips on how to do it better, including the following: 

  1. Focus on what you do best
  2. Share clear, concise instructions
  3. Provide support without micromanaging
  4. Identify the right people to delegate work to
  5. Establish biweekly delegation meetings
  6. Embody the behavior you’d like others to emulate 
  7. Evaluate team members’ strengths and weaknesses
  8. Hold people accountable for the outcome, not the task

3. Embodying work-life balance

Work-life balance isn’t only important for employee satisfaction and retention. It also positively affects productivity, works against burnout, reduces stress, and enriches company culture overall. It’s also good for business, with 85% of employees surveyed in our Workforce Trends Report agreeing that a good work-life balance helps them to stay motivated and engaged at work.

However, work-life balance is an area organizations worldwide need to improve and prioritize — respondents to a CIPD survey specifically cited exhaustion at work, struggling to relax, being under excessive pressure, or working too many hours as major inhibitors to achieving a healthy balance.

One of the most important steps organizations can take to improve employee work-life balance is ensuring that managers facilitate and embody it. Diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist Lily Zheng really drives that point home when they talk about the fundamental role team leads play in molding company culture and work-life balance in particular. They emphasize that: “If your leader models work-life balance, doesn't over-promise so that the team's workload stays manageable, and notes that no one on the team should expect a response outside work hours? You'll have a culture of better work boundaries and more manageable workloads to show for it.”

To improve work-life balance practices for themselves and their reports, managers can take a number of actions, namely:

  • Using goal-setting software to establish and collaborate on realistic, achievable objectives so team members can see what’s possible within their working hours while feeling efficient and accomplished. 
  • Holding 1:1 check-ins and/or sending out employee surveys to investigate whether employees would describe their work-life balance as good and, if not, what would help them to improve it.
  • Not working outside established working hours or during time off nor allowing others to do the same.
  • Proposing or implementing flexible work arrangements like offering a certain amount of work-from-home days or free mornings or afternoons.
🤔 Work-life balance isn’t “one size fits all”

Leapsome’s Surveys module enables you to send out anonymous questionnaires and dig into how work-life balance looks for different team members.

Learn more

4. Team & company goal alignment

A screenshot of the all goals dashboard within Leapsome’s Goals module.
Leapsome’s Goals module means that managers can check how individual, team, and company goals are progressing together with a quick glance

To motivate their reports to deliver great results, push them professionally, and enrich their experience, team managers must work together with their re to set realistic objectives. However, goal-setting isn’t enough on its own — even if teams establish the most relevant, actionable, and motivating objectives, those goals won’t make a meaningful impact on organizational success if they don’t align with the broader company strategy. 

Indeed, a McKinsey report found that 91% of organizations with effective performance management systems linked employee goals with company priorities. 

That’s what makes the managerial capability to align team and company goals so critical. C-suite executives rely on managers to make sure that their teams complete tasks and do the necessary work to propel the organization toward its objectives and broader mission. Meanwhile, managers also need to show their reports how their day-to-day tasks contribute to the company’s bigger picture to maintain motivation, engagement levels, and an overall positive EX. In fact, our recent report showed that 1 in 3 employees are unhappy with internal goal setting and KPI measurement at their organizations.

The simplest way for managers to practice goal alignment is by starting from the top down. After consulting and digesting the company’s big picture objectives quarterly or annually, they should share them with their reports and then work together to build relevant group and individual goals that suit the team’s needs and interests and align with organizational priorities. 

Manually tracking goals across departments can be challenging, but dedicated tools like Leapsome’s Goals module allow diverse teams to collaborate on, track, and adjust their collective objectives in one digital space. Our Goal Tree feature also allows teams to visualize relationships and dependencies between goals across all levels of their organization.

⚖️ Goals are most effective when they’re aligned

With Leapsome’s Goals module, managers can ensure that their team is consistently propelling the company toward its ambitious objectives.

Learn more

5. Supporting learning & development

Meaningful investment in learning and development — both in terms of time and financial resources — is key for ambitious, people-centered organizations. It also serves a dual purpose, enabling companies to upskill and reskill team members so they can promote from within as well as attract top talent that values professional development opportunities.

This is particularly essential when you consider that, according to a 2023 LinkedIn report, skill sets for jobs have changed by 25% since 2015, and that number is expected to double by 2027.

However, for team members to access, understand, and take advantage of the learning and development opportunities their companies have, they may need managerial guidance and coaching. For instance, a 2022 SHRM report uncovered these common employee frustrations with workplace training:

  • Difficulty staying motivated (33%)
  • Quickly forgetting training material (25%)
  • Not enough time to complete training (25%)
  • Training isn’t relevant to their role (24%)

These are all areas where effective team managers can make a huge difference in their reports’ training experiences. For instance, they might:

  • Build progress paths in Leapsome’s Learning module so employees can track and visualize their progress with their training materials and learning goals.
  • Help team members organize their work schedules and dedicate certain blocks of time to learning and development.
  • Identify skills gaps in performance reviews and informal feedback sessions.

Vitally, managerial emphasis on learning and development shouldn’t only extend to team members. Excellent managers should regularly prompt their colleagues and reports for feedback, take their own performance assessments seriously, keep an open mind, and realize there will always be areas where they can improve or better lead their team.

🧠 Great managers facilitate learning

Leapsome’s Learning module enables managers to personalize their reports’ development and work on the skillsets that’ll benefit them the most. 

Learn more

6. Decision-making skills

A photo of a group of professionals working together at a wooden table.

Complicated decisions make up a significant part of managers’ regular responsibilities, so facing them self-assuredly and intentionally is essential

It’s key for team managers to feel comfortable and confident making quick, fruitful decisions in their day-to-day work. Professionals often need to make tricky calculations on a regular basis related to resource allocation, time management, conflict resolution, client management, and strategic planning, to name a few.

However, what makes great decision-making particularly essential for team leaders is the amount of time they dedicate to it and how significant and far-reaching their conclusions can be. Interestingly, a McKinsey report found that professionals spend 37% of their time making decisions, and that number increases in relation to seniority. For example, 14% of C-suite survey respondents said they dedicated as much as 70% of their time to decision-making.

Indeed, the same report found that top-performing organizations made high-quality decisions fast, implemented them quickly, and demonstrated high growth and/or returns as a result.

While some may consider decision-making a skill that’s difficult to hone without direct experience, managers may consider these ideas:

  • Consulting training and development resources that are specific to decision-making.
  • Referring back to the organization’s core values and mission statement as a filter to guide decision-making.
  • Reviewing established team and/or company goals and thinking about how the decision could contribute to or detract from those objectives.
  • Trying out a framework like a SWOT analysis, a decision tree, or a cost-benefit analysis as they provide structures for them to take stock of a situation and make logical, well-informed choices.

How Leapsome empowers team managers

A Leapsome graphic that shows how all the modules work together and are interconnected.
All eight of our features work together and enable managers to take a holistic approach to leadership

Team managers play a critical role in overall organizational success, but it’s not easy to practice and enrich team management skills without hands-on practice. While there’s no substitute for on-the-job learning and development, a dynamic people enablement software like Leapome provides team leaders with the tools they need to practice, hone, and implement their managerial skills day in and day out.

Leapsome also values a holistic approach to leadership, and our platform reflects that. Our array of interconnected modules means that managers won’t work on any of their skills in a silo — rather, they’ll see how all their capabilities flow together to make them a better leader. For instance, our Reviews, Goals, Learning, Instant Feedback, and Meetings modules all integrate to enable team leads to consistently walk the walk regarding their communication skills, delegation capabilities, work-life balance, goal alignment, prioritization of professional development, and decision-making abilities. 

Ultimately, Leapsome wants to help build high-performing organizations that are also enjoyable, fulfilling places to work and knows that stand-out managers are a key piece of that puzzle.

🤝 Excellent team leads and organizational success go hand-in-hand

Leapsome gives managers the comprehensive set of tools they need to hone their skills and grow as leaders.

👉 Book a demo

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Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.
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