How to Manage Multiple Teams: Follow These 8 Tips

8 tips to manage multiple teams

Managing a team comes with its perks and hurdles. But managing multiple teams is a beast of its own. Especially if your teams span several locations.

Successful management relies primarily on keeping track of your different teams and members, without micromanaging them. Your ability to delegate effectively and your time management skills play a big role in whether you’re a successful leader or not.

Keep reading to find out how to manage multiple teams effectively, whether you’re all in a single location or spread across geographies.

 

Challenges of managing multiple teams

Managers play a major role in the success – or failure – of their teams.

How managers manage their team can be the reason employees feel loyal to a company or want to jump ship and search for an opportunity elsewhere.

Managers contribute to employee retention, engagement, loyalty, career growth, as well as personal and professional self-development.

Here are some of the top challenges managers face:

1- Leading vs micromanaging: Unfortunately, many new managers struggle with micromanagement. In an attempt to manage well, they fall in the trap of micromanaging their team, which hurts productivity, morale, and overall performance.

2- Inability to delegate: One of the biggest managerial challenges is learning how to delegate tasks to other team members. Managers are often burned with various tasks and requirements. Their inability to delegate leads to burnout, which in turn, hurts their performance and ability to lead.

3- Perfectionism: Former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s famous saying “Perfectionism is the enemy of progress” holds true in management. Managers who aim for perfection not only sign up for a long-term headache, but are unlikely to get things done.

 

Besides the above challenges in team management, managing multiple teams comes with another set of hurdles. These include:

Weak management of remote and distant teams

With many companies now operating in a hybrid or fully-remote fashion, supervision is becoming harder. It’s easier to manage and track teams when you’re both in the same office or building.

But when you can’t see your team, face-to-face, managers often end up trying to do too many things and micromanaging their remote teams. That’s instead of empowering them and providing them with the tools to do their jobs wherever they are.

 

Communication weakens

One problem of managing multiple teams is maintaining efficient internal communications.

Unlike, in-office meetings where you can sometimes have ad hoc meetings, managing multiple teams doesn’t come with this luxury. This issue is compounded when managing several remote or hybrid teams.

 

Geographical and time difference challenges

One of the biggest challenges of managing multiple teams, especially as your company grows and expands to new geographies, is location and time zone differences.

Managers often struggle to track teams located in distant offices or time zones. It’s understandable. But it’s part of a manager’s or director’s role to oversee their different teams regardless of where they are.

 

Collaboration declines

Teams succeed when they collaborate to finish tasks and projects. However, when managers are tasked with managing multiple teams, collaboration may suffer.

 

Skills needed to manage multiple teams

Let’s face it. Not all managers have the ability or skill-set to manage multiple teams.

Managing several teams, whether in the same building or country, or across geographies, isn’t an easy feat. It requires soft skills such as adaptability and flexibility.

To manage multiple teams effectively, managers need to

  • Be effective communicators
  • Have leadership skills (or learn how to lead)
  • Learn how and when to delegate
  • Know when to be flexible and when to be strict
  • Be familiar with the different jobs and requirements of each of their team members
  • Know when an employee is negatively impacting the rest of the team
  • Know how to support their team members to increase individual and team productivity
  • Have their teams’ backs during annual and semi-annual performance reviews
  • Be decision-makers and problem-solvers
  • Be open to ideas and foster collaboration
  • Know how to engage employees and teams, both in-person and remote teams

 

Tips on how to manage multiple teams effectively

Now, let’s look at how managers can manage and supervise multiple teams.

Some of the following tips will apply to teams located in the same city or country, while others will apply to both in-house, remote, and distant teams.

 

1) Establish KPIs for each team

Each team needs to have their unique key performance indicators (KPIs). As a manager, you need to explain to each team what is expected of them, how to meet those expectations, and what would happen if they don’t fulfill those expectations.

As a manager, you need to show strength but offer flexibility when needed. It’s easy to set KPIs that turn out to be too ambitious or difficult to perform. Similarly, for certain roles, like sales and marketing, results may be seasonal. Your teams may outperform their targets for certain months but under-perform in others because of seasonal lags or long holidays.

Setting your KPIs will help you identify patterns and seasonality and determine how to act accordingly.

It’s important you clarify each team member’s KPIs individually and explain what the KPIs for the whole team look like. You should also sit down with new employees to clarify what KPIs look like for them.

 

2) Identify objectives for each team 

Besides setting KPIs for each member and team, you should also identify the objectives or expected results for each employee.

Determining the objectives and key results (OKRs) for each individual and team helps your teams prioritize their tasks and deliverables. This helps them become more productive and focus on high-revenue or important projects easily.

 

3)  Ensure constant but relevant communication

As mentioned, communication is one of the top challenges for managing multiple teams. Take the opportunity to review communication and project management tools that support managing multiple teams.

If your teams need to collaborate, make sure you provide the space for them to do so.

For example, many companies and teams use Slack not just for internal communication but for holding quick meetings, managing conversations, sharing files, among others.

 

4)  Have emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to control and understand your emotions and those of others. Effective managers and leaders are those with a high level of emotional intelligence.

A person with emotional intelligence is “someone with a keen sense of self-awareness, empathy, and other social skills […]who can motivate and influence others.”

 

5)  Strong organizational skills

Managers have to manage and review budgets. This is even more so for managers who manage multiple teams.

They need to have an understanding of and manage project timelines, follow up with clients (depending on the role), keep track of internal hiring, among others.

Accordingly, they need to have strong organizational and people management skills.

 

6)  Know when to meet and when not-to-meet

Meetings have become the annoying new norm in companies. Managers and employees often waste hours in calls and face-to-face meetings.

As your company grows, your workload increases, and you manage multiple teams whether in one building or across geographies, you need to consider when to meet and when to avoid meetings.

The saying that if you can say what you want in an email instead of holding a meeting is stellar advice. It saves time, energy, and money for all parties involved.

This is not to say that all meetings are useless. But some meetings are.

Managers like to show they’re busy and important people – which they are – by joining an endless number of meetings. If it could be a quick email or slack message, then do so.

As a manager, it’s also important you know who to invite to each meeting. Getting a team to meet up only to discuss a situation or requirement for one member is a waste of team for other team members.

 

7)  Conduct regular one-to-one meetings

While not all meetings need to be face-to-face or via Zoom, when managing multiple teams across several locations, it’s important to maintain communication through one-on-one meetings.

These meetings are designed to maintain team members’ productivity, discuss their issues and concerns, current projects and so on.

Such meetings can be done weekly or monthly and shouldn’t last for more than 30 minutes to an hour.

 

8) Know how and when to delegate

Delegating tasks is one of the most important skills a manager can learn or have. As a manager, you should know what to delegate and to whom.

Delegation involves knowing who is the best person to perform a certain task. However, it also involves equipping employees with the skills or resources needed to take on these tasks.

It may be a simple task you delegate to a junior in one of your teams or a task that involves regular on-the-spot decision-making that you can delegate to your senior executive or team leader.

For example, if you’re a marketing manager, you can delegate quick design approvals to your social media manager or senior digital marketing specialist. Doing so, not only empowers them but builds their decision-making and other soft skills and helps them grow.

Similarly, if you’re an HR manager, you should delegate CV screening, initial phone interviews, and other tasks in the recruitment process to your team members.

 

 

Further reading

How to Create an Employee Rewards and Recognition Program

How Are Companies Using AI in the Recruitment Process?

How can technology increase productivity in the workplace?

Here’s What You Need to Know about Training and Development Programs for Employees

Team Performance Review: How to Evaluate Teams [Quick Guide]

How to Conduct a Sales Performance Appraisal [Guide]

 

 

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