December 23rd, 2022

Insights: How to manage teams successfully

Sofia Rousenova

By Sofia Rousenova

Dear Friends, we feel it is time for our project management team to share some insights on how we manage our creative teams while adapting to a hybrid workspace at Chromeye. Below you will have the chance to read our PM’s approach to leading diversified teams of coders, designers, and developers. You will also find our team members’ thoughts on the subject.

What makes a team successful?

Alex, Digital Manager:
The key factors are expertise, communication, and management. The team has to have the right set of knowledge, skills and expertise to be able to successfully complete a project. For the workflow to be smooth it needs good internal communication which also benefits the whole team’s comprehension of the entire project including each member’s contribution. Management is crucial in several aspects but the most prominent one is to give guidance and support to the team while assuring the project execution goes smoothly in a timely manner. This in turn makes our clients come back, knowing that their campaigns will run on time. Everything starts with a happy team.

Simo, Project Manager:
The key factor for building a successful team is transparent and efficient communication. Setting clear and straightforward goals as well as getting fast and transparent feedback helps us achieve the best execution and adds value for our clients.

Anonymous Project Manager (Believe it or not, there are PMs who are shy ;):
Making each team member proud of their work and instilling the feeling of the importance of continuous improvement.

What makes a team happy?

Contrary to most beliefs that remuneration is what makes a team member happy, I strongly believe that a team is happy when they feel valued and their contribution is meaningful to the work they do. That should also be accompanied by a good work environment and working with people that you aspire to as well.

Kristi, Project Manager:
Making team members feel appreciated just by saying ‘thank you’ and valuing the team’s work is a good way to start. The key is to know the people on your team, how they work, and what motivates them, and then build an environment of trust and productivity. Giving everyone a voice is another key point. Last but not least – make time to have fun together :)! The happier the team is the better the service they deliver.

Sofi, Senior Project Manager:
Teams are made of individuals, and respecting each individual is an absolute must. People are different, they work at a different pace, and they have different skill sets. PMs are part of their teams as individuals but they are also responsible for finding an approach to work productively with each member on their team. A happy team delivers. It is our mission to motivate but also understand and comfort team members when needed.

The team is happy when they know what is required from them. Clear instructions, clear deadlines, and again… Communication. I work with designers so I give them creative freedom wherever the task allows it. Designers need to express themselves, this is how they deliver higher quality.

How do you handle conflicts within the team?

Conflicts are not an unusual thing to occur but handled properly they have little to no effect on the people and the work process. You need to differentiate whether the conflict is personal or professional. If it’s personal you can try to reason with the needs and wants of both parties. If it’s professional, you can turn the conflict into a debate from which everyone can learn and benefit.

I always try to absorb the conflict, so to say. I try to find out what each side’s issues are and find a middle ground that would be acceptable for both parties. All people involved in a conflict benefit from this approach, but the biggest beneficiary is the project.

How do you manage hybrid teams?

I try to make sure that the people on my team who work remotely are following a balanced work style, so as not to cause burnout. They need to be content to provide their best. Communication is a must because distance can leave many things unsaid. Hybrid team management should use the right technology, excellent communication, and clear responsibilities and assignments.

The biggest challenge was the limited time in the office. Calls and video chats take more time compared to real-life communication, however, I wouldn’t say it is an issue for the day-to-day work.

Working with remote teams saves time as it cuts the distraction. Living in a digital age and working for a digital agency makes it even easier, after all, Chromeye is pretty successful working for clients located thousands of miles away. We are experts in such communication and this helps us provide excellent services and products.

What is the best approach when working with teams?

The best approach is to help the team understand that you are a part of it, not above it. It does take more time and requires an individual approach to each team member, but it creates a far stronger bond of cooperation and understanding which in turn results in a highly successful workflow.

The best approach is almost always the simplest. Teams are comprised of individuals and it’s crucial to see what a person’s strengths and weaknesses are. If everyone gives their best effort the team becomes stronger than the strength of the individuals comprising it. This makes all the difference when a complex project has to be delivered on a tight deadline.

Communication is crucial. A team is a miniature society built of people who need to communicate in order to finalize a task successfully. People in societies need structure and rules in the same way they need freedom and mutual respect.

What are the main challenges and difficulties?

The problem I’ve had to tackle most often is an overloaded team agenda for a certain day. The first step is to make sure every team member is equally busy. Then find out the priority of the tasks at hand and schedule them correctly such that deadlines are met according to priorities set by the client.

The team leader’s job is to handle unique situations even if the job of the team is repetitive. As the old saying goes, “you can never swim in the same river twice” and it’s really a description of what is happening in our line of work. You need to always pay attention to what is happening and encourage people to ask for and give help to others when necessary.

And here is what some of our team members think…

Polya, 3D designer:
It is appreciated when a PM engages personally and provides assistance if and when it is needed. Work at a digital agency is a team effort and each team member brings value to it. Creating a calm and friendly environment as well as establishing trust among all of us is the fundament of a successful and productive work process.

Tedi, Senior Graphic Designer:
It’s always helpful when a project manager is up to date with the available pool of information and sets clear project goals for the design team. Explaining unclear bits and communicating their ideas without imposing them is also a positive.

Peter, Graphic Designer:
Communication with the PM is one of the most important aspects of a designer’s work. The PM is there to help when the clients are not clear in their requirements. It is important for a manager to know the skills of each team member in order to accurately navigate the relations between designers and clients. This is how Chromeye provides the highest quality in a timely manner.