16 management techniques to boost team engagement

Team Asana contributor imageTeam AsanaNovember 10th, 202112 min read
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Summary

Management techniques are methods that help you engage with your team, foster a healthy work environment, and reach your organization’s goals. In this article, we’ll cover team, project, and time management techniques so you’re prepared for any scenario.

Management is more than just telling people what to do. You have to manage people, projects, and time. These are all very different approaches—though intertwined—and will determine the overall success of your work.

Our research shows that 44% of employees would feel more motivated if their work was engaging and enjoyable. But how can you create an environment for your team that allows them to feel this way? 

We compiled 16 management techniques that will help you connect with your team, create a productive and enjoyable work environment, and achieve your business goals. 

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1. Create an inclusive environment

When you hire people with diverse backgrounds, it’s crucial that everyone feels safe and welcome on your team. While diversity can drive progress, it can also be a breeding ground for misunderstanding if your organization isn’t inclusive. 

Check your unconscious bias to examine assumptions, beliefs, or attitudes you may have internalized. Being aware of your bias is the first step toward combating it and opening your mind to a more inclusive and diverse workplace. It really doesn’t matter what kinds of stereotypes you have internalized—it’s all about how you approach mitigating their effects.

A manager who understands how cultural, gender, or body diversity can impact their team will be a better leader than someone who neglects to acknowledge these unique traits. By practicing your emotional and cultural intelligence, you can become a better leader and create a strong organizational culture for your team.

2. Hire the best team

This should go without saying but the better your team, the more rewarding it will be to manage them. Hire teammates who have complementary skills and diverse backgrounds to promote creativity and innovation and, in turn, drive progress

The more diverse your hiring approach, the more talent you will attract. Do this by soliciting candidates through multiple different hiring channels and asking for internal recommendations from employees across levels and departments. 

Read: Team structure: 10 effective ways to organize your team

3. Choose the right leadership style

Your personality and experience in the workplace will inevitably influence your leadership style but so can your team! A situational leadership style allows you to cater the way you lead and manage your team to their individual needs, traits, and situations. Depending on the amount of support and direction your team needs, you can apply any of the four types of situational leadership: delegating, supporting, coaching, or directing.

If situational leadership isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other leadership styles you can apply as they feel authentic to you.   

Read: Qualities of a leader: 15 traits of effective leadership

At Asana, we lead by example. This consistent and approachable leadership style can increase team engagement and trust. At the same time, leading by example also inspires the people around you and builds a culture of accountability.

As a leader, I know it’s my responsibility to set the tone for our company culture.

What matters at the end of the day is that you choose a leadership style that feels right for you and ensures your team meets the goals of your organization.

4. Delegate effectively

You can’t do it all by yourself—that’s the benefit of managing a team of talented, hard-working, and determined people. One of the most effective and efficient management techniques is delegating work

Effective delegation can help you maximize your team’s productivity while preventing burnout. Delegating work is a delicate balance. It’s about finding the fastest and best way of getting tasks done while also managing your team’s workload. To be effective at delegating, think about your team members, the skills they have, and the challenges, opportunities, or breaks they need to perform their best.

First-time managers in particular may struggle with this technique since it’s difficult to distance yourself from the work itself while still maintaining the feeling of contributing to the project. Motivate yourself to delegate by considering how new projects will positively impact your team members. 

If delegating doesn’t come naturally to you, that’s ok! Try to remember that your job is to set your team up for success by providing the resources and environment they need, not doing everything yourself.

Delegate effectively

5. Recognize hard work, talent, and engagement

Acknowledging and rewarding your team’s work is important to keep them engaged. Performance reviews are a great way to do this. But in order to develop your management skills, practice recognition in other ways as well. After all, gratitude makes your team feel valued. Plus, receiving positive feedback when they’re doing their job well has been shown to reduce the negative effects that stress can have on their performance.

Whenever you appreciate your team or a team member's specific contribution, tell them. Hana Ayoub, a New York-based executive coach, told us that team members who internalize a strength that’s been pointed out to them by their managers can leverage these natural talents in the future.

It’s a win-win for everyone. Plus, regular feedback (good or bad) allows your teammates to adapt and improve their work more efficiently than if they had to wait for their next annual review.

Read: Don’t like giving feedback? These 20 tips are for you

6. Put your dream first

A management technique that can easily be overlooked is to genuinely care about your team beyond their contributions at work. A team that feels like they’re more than just numbers to you will typically be more engaged and collaborative at work. 

One way that you can show your team that you care about them as human beings is to actively listen when they talk to you. Rather than jumping to conclusions or analyzing every word they say, tune into their words and put your own biases or points of view aside. By asking open-ended questions, you can show your teammate that you’re paying attention.

This type of listening skill can be incredibly helpful when resolving conflicts, facilitating meetings, or problem-solving. Plus, providing your teammates with the mental space to just talk about what’s on their mind can spark new ideas for solutions that come easily. 

When your teammate brings up the problem they need to solve, reflect back on what they’re saying (‘What I hear you saying is…’). Sometimes just hearing a problem relayed back inspires someone to realize they already know the answer.

Hone your emotional intelligence to get better at recognizing, regulating, and understanding your own emotions and those of your team members. This will help you communicate more effectively, solve conflicts, and build team synergy. 

7. Provide professional development opportunities

Besides providing your team with regular feedback, offering them professional development opportunities is another management technique that will help your team grow under your leadership.

Find out what motivates your teammates and actively listen when they talk to you about their long-term goals so you can support them on their way to reaching these objectives.

If your teammates are stuck or if they’re feeling overwhelmed, assist them in defining their professional goals. Sometimes, all they need is an outside opinion and a little nudge to set goals that will get them back on track.

8. Be open to new ideas

If you’ve hired the best people to be on your team, you should trust them to have some of the best ideas. As their manager, you need to make sure that you’re open to new ideas, whether they’re ideas on how to drive your project forward, improve team collaboration, or fix a flaw in your business plan. 

No great concept will come to fruition within a silo.

Besides being open to their ideas, you should give your teammates opportunities to share them. You can hold regular brainstorm sessions, set up a shared brain dump task in your work management system, and encourage honest feedback during coffee meetings. All of these are excellent opportunities to inspire creativity and an ongoing feedback loop that makes your team happier.  

9. Stay clear and consistent

We’ve mentioned the importance of consistency when talking about the benefits of leading by example but this technique is so vital to your success as a manager that we’re going to dig a little deeper here.

Your team needs clear and consistent management so they can focus on the tasks at hand rather than spending their time clarifying whether or not their approach is correct. When you achieve a level of consistency that your team can rely on, you provide them with clarity of purpose, plan, and responsibility.

Read: 9 strategies for successfully managing multiple projects

Clarity and consistency can apply to the way you schedule projects and meetings, your approach to leading calls, the way you communicate praise and constructive feedback, how you set expectations, and how tasks are delegated.

If you’re leading a team that is part of a larger organization, one of the most important things you can do is to help everyone on your team understand how the larger organization is impacting the world, how your team is critical to the success of the organization, and how their individual work is important to the success of the team.

Consistency doesn’t have to stand in the way of innovation though—when you do it right, it can do quite the opposite! When your processes are streamlined, your team can spend less time on work about work and more time contributing creative ideas.

10. Manage time wisely

Stellar time management is a skill that will set you apart from other managers. Managing your own time and that of your teammates well will help you stay on top of projects without making you feel overworked. There are endless ways to manage your time but here are some of our favorite time management techniques:

Time management techniques

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a way to break your workday into productive sessions and breaks. The idea is to work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break and repeat this cycle four times. After the fourth session, you can take a longer break, usually 15–30 minutes.

While it may seem that this time management technique interrupts your flow, it actually reduces mental fatigue and helps limit distractions during focus sessions.

Example: This is how you could break up your first four pomodoro sessions of the day:

  • 25 minutes of answering emails, five minutes of coffee break

  • 25 minutes of QAing a report, five minutes on social media

  • 25 minutes to finish QAing the report, five minutes to do a few stretches

  • 25 minutes of scheduling tasks

  • 30 minutes of taking your dog for a walk

The GTD technique

GTD stands for Getting Things Done, a technique that operates with the belief that the more information you’re trying to keep track of, the less likely you are to be productive and focus on your tasks. This technique can be extremely useful if you struggle with procrastination.

GDT works in five steps: 

  1. Capture the work you have to do

  2. Clarify details

  3. Organize your tasks

  4. Reflect on your priorities

  5. Get the bulk of your work done 

The 1-3-5 rule

The 1-3-5 method allows you to prioritize your most important work while also getting some smaller things done. When you’re compiling your daily to-do list, write down nine tasks that you’d like to accomplish every day but separate them into five small tasks, three medium tasks, and one big task. Complete the big tasks first and work toward your smaller tasks. 

Example: Here are a few examples of small, medium, and big tasks.

  • Small tasks: Send quick emails, schedule meetings, order office supplies, etc.

  • Medium tasks: Update documentation, QA blog post, send procurement request, etc.

  • Big tasks: Launch website, lead client call, brainstorm, etc.

The do it now

This time management method is pretty simple: If a task will take you less than a few minutes, do it immediately. 

Try not to let this method get in the way of your urgent tasks. Keep in mind that as long as doing the task takes as long as writing it down and setting a reminder, it’s better to just get it out of the way.

Example: You’re in the middle of writing a report and have to check your email to grab some data when you see that your supervisor sent you a request to share access to a document. Rather than writing this task down and clouding your brain with yet another small task that needs to be done later on, just click those few buttons and then get back to your report. 

Eat the frog

The eat the frog time management technique is built on the idea of getting the worst part of your day (e.g., eating a frog) done first. Planning your day around this strategy will allow you to tackle the biggest or most important tasks first thing in the morning and make the rest of your day more enjoyable.

Example: Your schedule for the day is looking quite fun: You have a team lunch planned, a blog post in the works that’s on a topic you proposed, and you get to contribute to an asynchronous brainstorming session. But you also have to update your client tracker which is your least favorite task of the month. That’s your frog. Swallow it early in the day so you can enjoy the rest of it!

Timeboxing

Timeboxing is a goal-oriented time management technique where each task has an associated timebox—or the amount of time in which that task should be completed. 

Example: If you have a big task on your plate, like writing a performance review, you can slate two one-hour timeboxes on your calendar to help you finish the task.

Time blocking

Time blocking is very similar to timeboxing but rather than allocating timeboxes for individual tasks, you block dedicated periods on your calendar for groups of similar tasks. This can help increase focus time and unlock deep work.

Example: Block half an hour in your calendar every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 9:30 and 10:00am to bring your email inbox down to zero.

Read: Why Inbox Zero isn’t what you think it is

The Pareto principle

The Pareto principle states that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes. If you want to apply this principle to your time management, you can use the 80/20 rule. Write down your to-do list for the day and find out which of the tasks will have the highest impact on your team, project, or business that day. 

Then try to focus on the 20% of tasks that will result in 80% of the impact for the day first, before you tackle any other work.

Example: On your plate for the day are two annual reviews that are due next week, a few sales emails that you’ve been avoiding, and four sales and revenue reports that you need to QA. While writing the annual reviews or sending those sales pitches are important tasks, QAing the reports first will make the biggest impact on your team because it allows them to continue their work.

11. Value your team’s time

Time management skills can help you get your best work done, but make sure you’re also valuing and appreciating your team’s time. 

You can show that you value your team’s time (and ask the same in return) by keeping emails, messages, and calls to the point. Always clearly express what you need, when you need it, and how you want it done—putting this work in on your end will allow the person you’re asking for help to focus on the task at hand rather than trying to decipher what exactly the task is supposed to be.

Another way to show your team that you value their time is to implement a no meeting day every week. At Asana, we’ve found that no meeting Wednesdays enable our teammates to get really productive—because there are no interruptions.

Read: 6 tips to harness the power of flow state at work

12. Leverage technology and work management tools

Whether your team sees each other every day in office or you’re distributed across the entire globe, in today’s day and age, a single source of truth is key. 

Work management software can help you connect with your teammates, set goals, schedule tasks, and track progress. Besides saving everyone time spent on work about work, streamlining all of your projects and communication in one tool will make it easier for everyone to stay on top of their work.

A work management tool is the best way to centralize your team’s information. Clearly see who’s doing what by when, why it matters, and what goals that work is supporting. These tools, like Asana, include ways for your team to: 

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13. Be proactive

The project management tools and methodologies above can be immensely helpful when it comes to troubleshooting issues. However, you also need to take a proactive approach in order to keep projects running smoothly. 

Use resource allocation to identify and assign available resources to team initiatives. This ultimately maximizes your team’s impact and productivity. Then, once a project has begun, use proactive risk management processes to track and anticipate complications before they arise. 

Be proactive

14. Promote positivity and work-life balance

Work and play don’t go together? We’d like to disagree. A team that plays well together will also collaborate better and, in turn, get their best work done. Make time for team building exercises to give your team the chance to connect on a human level.

Try not to limit play time to team building opportunities, either. You can create little moments of fun by starting a meeting with an icebreaker, scheduling bi-weekly happy hours after work, or hosting a team dinner to celebrate a milestone. 

Connecting with your team on a more personal level will create stronger bonds between you and make work more enjoyable and fulfilling for everyone involved. Besides, teams who have fun at work tend to feel like they have a healthier work-life balance.

We usually don’t know someone’s burned out until they actually burn out. But an intuitive and involved manager should be able to catch the early signs. Encourage all managers to maintain regular 1-1’s with reports and don’t just talk about business. Use the time to get a feel for how the individual is doing as a human.
Read: 100+ teamwork quotes to motivate and inspire collaboration

15. Be transparent

Transparency is a management technique that requires finesse. You’ll want to share important information with your team but find balance so you don’t risk oversharing information that’s going to stress them out or distract them from their work.

If you’re ever unsure about whether or not information you have should be shared with your team, ask your supervisor. In most cases, they’ll know if and how much you’re allowed to share. Plus, they can help you figure out the best way to communicate the information without overwhelming your team or causing unnecessary stress.

A big part of being transparent and honest with your team is to ensure that they know how their individual work is contributing to the company’s goals and success. Make sure your team has a clear way to connect their daily work and project level initiatives with your company’s goals so they can see how their everyday work comes to fruition in the grand scheme of things.

16. Communicate effectively

Communication is the glue that holds everything together. You need to communicate effectively to get projects done on time, keep your team members motivated, and ensure stakeholders or clients are happy. Besides your interpersonal communication skills, it’s vital that you create a communication plan for your team.

Your communication plan will note which channels to use for different kinds of communication (e.g., Slack for quick check-ins or email for external communication), when to communicate asynchronously versus in person, who holds what kind of project roles, and how frequently important details will be communicated. 

Connect your team with one tool

The 16 management techniques shared above can help you be a great leader, but try not to pressure yourself to do every one of them all of the time. It’s ok if you’re naturally talented at some management techniques and still developing others—you’re only human! To help alleviate some of the stress you may be experiencing, streamline your projects and communication in a reliable and flexible work management tool.

Asana’s work management software allows you to minimize app switching and empowers you and your team to focus on planning. Plus, coordinating your projects can drive your business forward.

Try work management with Asana

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