How to Keep Productivity High When There is No Team Leader

Normally, the manager will set the expectations and deadlines, while the employees do the work.  But what happens when there is no manager or team leader?

Georgina worked in a self-directed team.  As long as everyone on the team participated equally, there were no problems, but the minute a team member did not pull their weight, resentment set in and productivity went down.  She didn’t want to rock the boat, but she was concerned about the team’s reputation.

A group of managers in a training workshop was asked, “What would you do?”

1.  Take on Responsibility

First of all, everyone must be clear on their responsibilities and how the team will work together, given their existing resources and deadlines. 

One person volunteered, “If I was on the team I would say, we have an issue with incomplete orders, how are we going to deal with it?  Follow with a brainstorming session with the team members, define an action plan with responsibilities and deadlines associated with it."

One team member can take on the lead role for the current problem and others will take turns on handling the lead role for the future ones. Every so often the team will need to go to a higher level for clarification or authority.

2.  Play Your Part on the Team

  • If you are finished your work and see that your team member is bogged down, lend a helping hand.  It is easy to find busy work, but instead look for ways of assisting your team.  They will be very grateful and return the favor in the future.
  • Be a good role model.  Demonstrate what an ideal team member’s contributions should look like.  Watch your team members’ back.  Be there to help them, when they need it.
  • Provide support and encouragement to others.  Everyone will go through difficult times with looming deadlines, difficult clients and a heavy workload.  Acknowledge what is happening with your coworkers and provide assistance when you can.
  • Praise them when it is due.  People want to be noticed for the work that they do.  Provide a compliment for a job that is well done.  Sometimes all it takes is a “thank you.”
  • Avoid negative criticism.  If a task or behavior needs to be improved, use a gentle approach and provide them with a suggestion.  Reinforce the importance of working together.

As a management training skills expert, I advise Managers and Supervisors to empower their self-directed teams and to create the environment which give team members the flexibility to take on responsibility and to play their part on the team.

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