How well are you supporting your team?

How well are you supporting your team?

How well are you supporting your team?by Jacquie Wise

A team operates at peak efficiency only if it has the vital support in place.

Anthony was the team lead for special IT projects that affected the functioning of a very large organisation. Whenever new systems were introduced, it was Anthony’s team that was responsible for the timely roll-out. Anthony dealt with external vendors for the acquisition of software and other equipment, and if the vendors didn’t supply on time, it set off a chain of delays and other problems.

His aim was to be promoted to senior project manager, but things weren’t looking good.

Anthony was surrounded by managers from other departments, who were all screaming for deadlines. His reputation as a capable team lead, able to meet his key performance indicators (KPIs) was in question. In addition, there was one team member who was not experienced to the required level and who was holding the others back.

Once Anthony learnt to speak more assertively and convincingly at meetings, he gained the respect he needed. Where once he had been anxious about revealing the difficulties his team was experiencing, because he didn’t want to give a bad impression, he learnt that he needed to have a voice as loud as the others.

Anthony learnt to network within his organisation and become better known to influential people from departments who were impacted by the activities of his team.

Surprisingly (to him) instead of being criticised and blamed, he was applauded for managing all the stakeholders well.

All teams need the backing of senior management. It is essential to establish and nurture good relationships and support systems within your organisation to help your team meet their own and the organisation’s objectives.

In addition, good relationships need to be established with other stakeholders, such as vendors or external consultants. In our Australian culture, as in many other countries, business success rests on good relationships.

There are three key relationships a team needs: the main team sponsor, the head of the department or operation to which the team reports, and whoever controls the team’s budget.

Their roles are to monitor and approve the team’s activities and to ensure that all necessary practical support is available. Keep strong lines of communication going with these managers so that they can back you when anything goes wrong.

Keep them informed of progress, as well as of emerging problems, such as potential delays or technical difficulties.

Areas of potential support:

  • Sales staff off information on markets and contracts
  • Administrative help provides vital back-up for the project
  • The accounts department provides financial expertise
  • Senior staff members are well informed to make decisions

Ideally, specialised help can be called in when required, perhaps someone on loan from another department. Think carefully about any specialist support your team is likely to need, then discuss the options for acquiring it with all the team members. Treat these external consultants as team members.

Insist on having IT support that gives you exactly what you want, to allow your team to function. As team lead, your job is to provide your team with whatever it needs to meet its objective, which is to support the organisation’s objectives. You need to protect your team as much as possible from unrealistic demands and external pressures.

And you need to manage the personalities and varying levels of experience that will affect how well team members work together.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and be heard.

If you would like to learn how to speak up at work and be heard, contact me directly to arrange a convenient appointment time.

I’d love to know what you think of what I’ve said here. You can give me your feedback, ask a question by email or post a comment below.

If you or someone you know would like a personal consultation, please call +61 3 9690 8159.

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