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Developing Leaders: What to Do When Your Team Starts to Grow

Scaling Team
Juniors

21 May, 2021

Desiree Craig
Desiree Craig

VP, Product & Technology at uLesson

Desiree Craig, VP, Product and Technology at uLesson, shares how effectively she solved a deep-rooted problem with her team to empower the managers of tomorrow.

Problem

A few years ago, I was managing a team of interns. I was over the moon as they were young and always eager to learn. When our company expanded in size, my responsibilities also increased. Then, I was managing three experienced team members along with the interns, which eventually became a team of five. A group of five is pretty manageable, but what happened to be the problem was when the output of our team was showing lower than when we just had the interns.

I was personally frustrated because it felt like we had a lot of investment in the team, but the return on investment was not justifiable in terms of quality output. When I assessed the situation, I realized that the problem was how I was managing the team. Essentially, I was trying to manage everyone in the team the way I like to be managed. This made it difficult to truly get the best out of everyone.

Actions taken

When there is a problem, sit and identify the problem. That is precisely what I did. I identified that we were not delivering increased output. The root cause of this was because I hadn’t taken the time to properly understand each team member and what motivated them and how they thrived. Being the leader, I had the resources, knowledge, and budget, but I needed to find a solid strategy that I could implement to increase the quality of the output.

Working with the same people can help you see them clearly. So, my next step was to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each person in my team and assign them tasks based on their unique strengths. Something that correlates with this is treating them as different individuals in a team rather than treating 5 people as 1. I became more aware of the fact that in a team, there are people who are fine with working on multiple projects at a time, while others would choose to focus on one thing at a time. I had to experiment with that.

A part of me was starting to believe that “help” was just a four-letter word. It indeed is, and I started seeking help from managers who have more leadership and management experience than I did and whom I can call mentors. I read plenty of articles online, which surely guided me a lot. This helped me to remodel my mindset that managing a team is a lot about empowering. I needed to empower my team members in the same way my mentors encouraged me.

Lessons learned

  • Manage people the way they want to be managed, not the way you want to manage. It is all about your team members' preferences and how best to work with them to deliver value to the organisation while achieving their personal goals. . In this way, you will get the best out of your team.
  • If there is a problem with the team, it is the manager who is accountable for it. While the manager may not be the one directly doing the work, when anything happens, whether good or bad, the manager has to come up with a solution. Instead of depending on others.
  • It is very important to overcome your fears or reservations and ask for help. I spoke to managers and different mentors only to provide the best for my team and be the best manager for them. Feel free to reach out to someone you feel comfortable with and discuss the problems weighing you down.

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