When your employees work in teams, your job is to make sure they collaborate and focus on what matters most. You may also need to step in and help them with their problem-solving skills.
Here are some ways you can oversee their progress without micromanaging:
Identify their mission. You need to explain the big picture so that team members know the context within which they’re working. Inform your teams of the overriding challenge they face and the reason they’re being assembled.
Define the problem and the opportunity in clear terms. If you want the team to devise cost-cutting moves, explain that increasing competition requires everyone to think of ways to produce better results for less money. Then write on a flip chart, “Your mission is to identify specific steps to cut 30 percent from our operating budget.” Let that statement drive their effort.
Stage random checks. Consider whether you need reports from your teams every week. Reason: If you ask for regular written updates, they may devote too much time to communicating with you and less time to their mission.
It’s smart to drop in on teams and ask how they’re doing. Tell them you don’t want to interrupt them for long, but you’d like a quick summary of their progress. By catching them off-guard, you can assess more accurately but informally how team members are working together and pooling their resources.
Show excitement. When talking to teams, radiate enthusiasm for their work. Emphasize the importance of their contribution and the high stakes involved. Express curiosity without meddling. Your genuine interest and high energy level will surely motivate them.