used with permission from the HP Small Business Website

Managing a team is rarely an easy task. Coordinating workflows, setting expectations, dealing with personality conflicts, a manager’s work is never done. A company’s well-being relies on its manager’s ability to handle a multitude of challenges; your success as a manager will rest almost entirely on your ability to keep your team motivated while producing quality results.

While every team and department (and manager) is different, there are some management best practices that can help ensure that work teams run smoothly and employees stay happy and productive. Here are five you may want to consider:

1. Put the right people in the right places
Make sure you know your employees’ specific strengths and skills, and match them to tasks appropriately. For example, there is no sense in asking Employee A to manage the monthly reporting charts if Employee B has more experience with Microsoft® Excel®. And if you ask Employee C to deliver the customer presentation when they have a fear of public speaking, you could just be setting them up for failure.

When people’s skills are properly aligned with their responsibilities, both productivity and job satisfaction will be much higher. Be sure to actually ask your employees what they feel their strengths and weaknesses are, rather than just relying on your own judgment.

2. Results and productivity are what matters
Unless you work in an environment where mandatory coverage during certain times is required, for example in customer service or IT help desk environments, enforcing or encouraging specific “clock in” and “clock out” times can de-motivate and demean your employees. If you have hired employees that you trust, and the expectations of them are clear, there should be no reason to closely monitor when they come and go from the office as long as productivity is high and goals are being met.

3. Don’t blame or shame
Projects don’t always go as planned. And when things go wrong, it’s tempting to look around for someone to pin the blame on. However, there’s a better way to find out what happened – and how to address problems in the future. Don’t jump to conclusions, accuse anyone or publicly criticize — instead, conduct an evaluation to determine what went awry. If specific individuals are at fault, talk to them privately to get their side of the story, and to set clear expectations for the future.

4. Be consistent in your actions and your communication
You might be surprised how observant your employees are. They notice lots of things — and they will most likely talk amongst themselves, too. For example, if you allow one employee to leave the office early, but deny another employee the same request, it will be noticed and discussed. Likewise, the team will notice if you repeatedly praise one employee more than the others, which can cause tension and mistrust within the team. You need to ensure that you deal with each of your staff members equally and fairly.

5. Encourage teamwork and collaborative outcomes
Environments where everyone pitches in and individuals are encouraged to help each other out are usually very successful — and fun, too! So encourage your team to share ideas, talk openly, and exchange feedback. You can do that by establishing regular team meetings, holding “team building” exercises and activities, and rewarding the whole group for shared successes.