5 Simple Ways to Be an Effective Leader in Small Teams

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Viktória Bundschuhová

Viktória Bundschuhová

Viktória studies an international course at Saxion University of Applied Sciences in a business-related field. She is a marketing ambassador of DSIF, who works on a project-based position.

Usually, the first steps of start-up development are realized in small teams, with an emphasis on good cooperation with each other. Management of small teams differs in some aspects from one of larger teams, mostly because of its more intimate working atmosphere. In this blog, we provide you with tips that can help with leading a small team and improve team-work efficiency.

In recent years the preference of working in small teams has gained in popularity, mostly because of a wide range of benefits it can bring to the overall work. Generally speaking, in a small team it is easier to make a consensus, and usually, team members are willing to be more flexible. As a start-up is defined as a company in the early stages of its development with no certainty, it also includes just a few entrepreneurs who work on definite innovations, which means that working in a small team is the most common.

1. Define clear goals of the team with the team

While working in a team when there are just a few team members, it is key to fully understand the start-up’s mission, vision, and clear goals for achieving them. Setting goals should be co-operation work, where everyone is included and can bring up any remarks to it which will lead to the bigger commitment of all team members. It is a combined effort of all team members where everyone understands business aims and knows how to contribute to achieving them. Setting goals in a small team helps to keep everyone aligned and allows members to have autonomy over their work. When team members see how they can contribute to achieving specific goals, they start to focus on finding ways to work smarter and more efficiently. It gives drive & passion for overall work and boosts the engagement of the small team.

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2. Build comfort & trust

Trust is a crucial aspect of a successful business for the comfort & safety it can provide. Being part of a team with no trust is like being just an individual in a group where cooperation can be very hard. However, when team members are aware that they will not be judged, punished, or embarrassed for their opinion they are much more likely to engage, participate and release their efforts. Especially in small teams where all ideas count and interaction is more dynamic than in bigger teams, self-reflection on judging other opinions is important. Team members should feel psychologically safe –  which is defined as feeling comfortable to fully express themselves – between each other. This trust can bring more innovation, the courage to take appropriate risks, and the creative thinking of every team member.

More about what is psychological safety in the workforce:

3. Sense of empowerment

The majority of start-ups start in a small team, which requires people to take several roles at once. As a leader of a small team, it is important to be open to new ideas of team members, as it gives them a feeling of being valued and respected. Empowerment impacts the engagement of the team, and also it impacts productivity, enabling individuals to think and take action in a self-sufficient way. It is part of self-development where they can pave their path to success along with creating a prosperous start-up.

4. Regular feedback meetings

In managing small teams, feedback is regarded as an essential management tool. It guides & motivates all individuals in a team to have to make their work even more effective. Furthermore, it conveys how team members see each other and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Especially in connection with starting a start-up, team members do not know how the cooperation between them will be and how every team member is able to work under pressure or in unexpected situations. That is why it is important to emphasize regular feedback meetings. It will point out the areas of improvement, identify challenges from past meetings, and gain other team members’ perspective.

5. Get-togethers outside of work

By building an atmosphere that is friendly and supportive, a better workplace is automatically guaranteed. Team buildings or even casual get-togethers outside of work give employees an opportunity to build high-quality relationships with their colleagues. These activities can bring a more robust workflow and a more open attitude towards each other. A workplace with a relaxed atmosphere, where relations between employees are not tense, encourages people to work harder and be more efficient.  Social interactions outside of the workplace ensure that all members of the team are on the same page. It gives a feeling of equality and inclusivity. Furthermore, close relations between team members help provide emotional support and, thus, contribute to improving team members’ overall well-being.

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