A manager’s work is to hire exceptional leaders, build self-reliant teams, establish a clear vision, and communicate well. When you master these skills, it is possible to manage a team of any size. Managers are the most powerful influence on employee’s engagement levels.
You cannot manage a team of 30 employees directly. Groups of six are considered optimal because it is challenging to have enough hours to support more people while also contributing to strategy. Situational leadership requires a degree of sensitivity and emotional intelligence. New managers often struggle to learn the nuances of leading a team. These lessons can be even more challenging when considering the differences between small groups and large teams. Here are a few fundamental differences and ways new managers can overcome them.
The spirit of cooperation is essential for daily business operations. When the vision and mission statements are clearly defined, larger groups tend to embrace collaboration as an expected role in the company culture. Smaller teams generally work well together and are comfortable enough to form friendships outside the workplace.
The tendency for larger groups is to break down into individual islands of self-management. Larger groups may see any direction as micromanagement and become resentful. Likewise, when one or two members of a small team become disenchanted or are prone to clash, they can quickly disrupt the whole group. New managers must closely monitor their teams to curb gossip or dissatisfaction. Positive corporate culture should be ingrained in all team members.
New managers often struggle to develop communication skills appropriate for their audience or respective teams. There are crucial differences in communicating with large groups.
Large Team Communication Tips
- Send One Message
- Prompt Delivery
- Reinforce Communication
Large team atmospheres require a uniform approach. Managers must deliver the same message to all team members, preferably at the same time. A leader can communicate this in person or electronically, as long as the leader gives the same message to the entire team. Finally, communication for a large team should be reinforced individually or in smaller groups. This allows room for questions or feedback, and each member of the team feels like they are involved in the decision-making process. One of the problems of large groups is that individual contributions are perceived to be less valuable because of the number of people sharing the same task. It’s important to understand that dynamic and find countermeasures to ensure that everyone is helpful.
Managers of large teams are in a position of authority that creates the feeling of intimidation in others. Employees are less likely to tell managers of large groups that they are wrong. Managers need to understand this dynamic so that they can uncover the truth. So use language that encourages discussion, like “tell me if you disagree.” And “what would you do in this position if you were me?”
In your large team, start scheduling smaller meetings. Include essential people only. Members of smaller meetings feel more engaged. They are more likely to voice individual ideas and less likely to “go with the flow.”
Do not micromanage your team. Provide independence by tracking output rather than input. A leader should help workers know where the organization needs to go, but how the business gets there is up to the employees.
It would help if you encouraged learning. The supervisor should not be the sole source of knowledge. Your ultimate responsibility lies in creating an atmosphere in which everyone can do their best work.
Small Team Communication Tips
- Conduct Research
- Present Message
- Limit Responses
Small teams operate differently, and each member wants to provide input on almost every agenda item. Managers should thoroughly research an event or decision and be ready to justify their message before communicating with a small team gently. They should allow room for a question and answer period and carefully time the communication to restrict irrelevant or contradictory feedback.
There are many benefits to small teams. Members of these teams are more likely to challenge others’ ideas, voice their own opinions, and ultimately make better, more thought-out decisions.
Whether you are managing a small team or a large one, your communication style should match your audience. Driving a more extensive group will require more consistent communication with all. A smaller team allows for more back and forth with management. Either way, your role as a manager will be a significant influence on employee’s engagement.