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I’ve managed many teams during my career. I’ve managed teams of two and teams of twenty; those in which everyone worked in the same location and those where individuals were spread over multiple continents. Leading a team is never an easy challenge. Here are a few resources that strike as particularly useful at the moment.

9 Powerful Practices of Really Great Teams

By Stephen E. Kohn

Can you confidently address each of the items listed below for each person on the team(s) your manage?

  • How each staff member adds value to the enterprise, and to the satisfaction of the enterprise’s customers.
  • What each individual staff member’s training and development needs are.
  • How each individual staff member can maximize his or her full potential.
  • What motivates each direct report, and how each of these individuals is likely to respond to varying motivational techniques.

If not, make some time to read 9 Powerful Practices of Really Great Teams. And read it even if you can. Its strong practical guidance on the essential elements of team leadership will serve all managers well.

Questions That Get Results: Innovative Ideas Managers Can Use to Improve Their Teams’ Performance

By Patrick Connor; Paul Cherry

No team is immune to conflict. Put a bunch of intelligent human beings together and there are going to be disagreements. In the best of circumstances, a little conflict can breed creativity. But too much strife can inflict serious damage on team dynamics. To effectively manage team conflict Patrick Connor and Paul Cherry suggest an approach led by questions:

The first step to resolving conflict, they write, is to gather your team together and ask some of the following questions:

  • “What problems or challenges are we facing as a team?”
  • “What opportunities should we take advantage of in the next few months?”
  • “What is preventing us from working together effectively?”
  • “What is our purpose as a team?”
  • “Are we able to achieve that purpose right now?”
  • “How can we be more effective?”
  • “If you have a conflict with someone else on the team, how do you deal with it?”
  • “Do you feel as if you can come to me to talk about a problem you are having with someone else on the team?”
  • “How can I encourage you to perform better as a team?”

Read more of Questions That Get Results 

Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams

By Mickey W. Mantle; Ron Lichty

Do you manage a team of programmers? If so, perhaps this quote will strike a familiar chord:

“Programmers are a very curious group . . . They arose very quickly, became a profession very rapidly, and were all too soon infected with a certain amount of resistance to change. The very programmers whom I have heard almost castigate a customer because he would not change his system of doing business are the same people who at times walk into my office and say, “But we have always done it this way.” It is for this reason that I now have a counterclockwise clock hanging in my office.”

It was said by Grace Hopper. It was said in 1961.

The more things change… yada, yada, yada. If you manage programmers, give Managing the Unmanageable a close look. It’s both smart and tactical.

Tags: leadership, management, teams,

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