Challenges faced by young team leaders

Have you been recently elevated to the profile of a team leader and are wondering, how you will be able to effectively lead the team? Or you have been in a team leader’s profile for less than a year now, and are facing challenges in managing the team. This article tries to figure out challenges faced by young team leader at some point or the other. And by putting things in proper perspective, how you can transform yourself into an effective team leader.

  • Balancing Delegation and Supervision – The biggest challenge faced by young team leaders is that they find it very difficult to delegate important jobs and processes to their team members. Team leaders feel that they are perfectionist and hence they try to do important jobs on their own. They lack faith in the abilities of their team members and fear that if they delegate, the team members will not do the job with perfection and sincerity. Hence they prefer to do the job on their own than to get it done through their subordinates. On the other hand, we have team leaders who delegate work to the team members and then don’t supervise the progress as well as quality of work at all. The result is the assigned job goes for a toss and performance of boss as well as team is adversely affected. As a team leader, one needs to put proper checks and controls in all processes. He should be on top of everything that is concerned with his team.

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  • Lead by example – I am sure many of you would have worked with bosses who love to give you an assignment at 6 o clock in the evening every day. While they will leave for home, they instruct you to finish job same day and confirm them on phone. This type of attitude doesn’t work in the long run. It creates an atmosphere of negativity and inefficiency. Team leaders need to lead by example. They need to build high ethical standards and great value system in their team members. The responsibility for developing such a culture in team rests with team leader. It takes years to build trust, togetherness, team spirit. And once built it facilitates new team members to adopt in this atmosphere of positivity in a short span of time. Similarly if not taken care of, this team spirit will vanish very fast. 

  • Assertiveness – Young team leaders are either too aggressive or are too soft in their approach in dealing with team members. They need to maintain a proper balance. With experience, slowly they learn how to be effective and assertive. No matter how good and effective team leader you are, there will be few team members who will be defiant despite your best efforts. There will be team members who may try to take advantage of your softness. You need to be strict with such team members so as to ensure discipline in department. 
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  • Problem Solver – As a team leader, one of your primary responsibilities is problem solving and handling escalations. Team leader can concentrate on solving complex problems and escalations only when he spends less time in daily routine activities. Hence daily routine activities and responsibilities needs to be distributed accordingly among other team members.  

  • Optimum utilization of strength of team members – Nobody is perfect. All team members will not have same skill set, same mind set, same maturity level. Some are introvert, some extrovert, some highly energetic, others who need a push. Some like independence in their work. Others need greater supervision and guidance. A Team leader needs to have a thorough understanding of strengths and weaknesses of all his team members. And he should be able to smartly use his team member’s strengths according to the specific demand of a particular peculiar situation. 

  • Handling conflict among team members – At times, you have to deal with lack of trust, friction and one-upmanship among team members. You need to be a good listener and need to have high level of patience. Different team members will try to influence your thought process to form a particular positive or negative opinion about other team members. As a team leader, you need to maintain a balanced approach and avoid favouritism. You should listen to all but ensure to cross check the facts through multiple sources before arriving at a conclusion. You need to demonstrate total transparency while addressing issues of conflict between team members.

  • Handling expectations of team members – As a team leader, you will have to handle attrition problems in your team. It’s not easy to satisfy all team members at the time of appraisals. Everybody has his own expectations and one is right in having it so. However as a team leader, you need to make your team members understand their strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, you need to motivate and assure the team members whose performance was below expectations that their efforts and hard work in future will be adequately rewarded. One should make all efforts to retain good resources. At the same time, one should be proactive in recruiting new team members so that the performance of the team is least effected by high attrition.

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