Working with others starts with you. You should monitor what you are doing against the needs of the situation and the task you have been given. If you are unable to meet the performance needed, you should ask for help and/or suggest an alternative course of action.

When undertaking functions at an advanced level, however, you will also go one step further and monitor the performance of others in the team, especially those with relatively little experience in the task.

If you have demonstrated the ability to work autonomously and a team leader believes that you have the necessary skills and expertise to do the job, you may be asked to take on the role of team leader.

A team leader’s role is to provide guidance and support to the team.

Team members need someone who is willing and confident enough to monitor and take overall responsibility for their activities and achievements.

Team Work

If you are asked to be the team leader, you are responsible for organising and managing the work of the team. You become part of the management team and are expected to be a supportive member of that team.

It should be made clear to you the limits of your authority, i.e. what kinds of decisions you can make on your own and what kind of matters must be referred to others for decisions. Being clear about this is most important so that you understand what you can and cannot take responsibility for.

Team Goals and Responsibilities

Your first task as team leader is to make sure that the team understands the key goals and objectives of the team tasks. You will need to agree as a team on the tasks which will achieve the team objectives, timeframes for the tasks, and also the standard of work required. Through involvement in planning, all team members develop a common focus and a sense of ownership of the work to be undertaken. The most common and simple method of involving team members in developing a team plan is through discussion which will usually take place in a meeting in which every member of the team participates.

A team leader may be given information by their supervisor that includes:

  • Activities and tasks
  • Estimation of the work effort required for each task
  • Resources and skills required
  • Standards and procedures to be used

Use this information to determine the:

  • Generic skills required by team members
  • Quantity of a particular resource necessary for the task
  • Timeframe in which the resource is required
  • Specific skills required
  • Individuals or groups who will be involved

Define what has to be done and allocate individuals to do the tasks. Each task should be accompanied by instructions that describe:

  • Who? – The individual responsible
  • What? – The task description
  • When? – Timings
  • Where? – Facilities
  • Why? – Rationale (the intended outcomes)
  • How? – Standards, tools and procedures

Tasks should be challenging for team members but not overly difficult. This is the art of working out what tasks will suit each person best. Ideally the person you choose will have the ability, skills, enthusiasm, talent and time to get the job done.

Work Instructions and Tasks

A team leader is primarily interested in whether a team member can do the tasks that are set. If the team leader discovers that a team member lacks the necessary skills, these skills may need to be developed so that team tasks can be completed and objectives met. Development or training will depend on a number of factors such as:

  • Time available
  • Resources available (including funds if appropriate)
  • Whether or not the expertise exists elsewhere
  • Longer term needs
  • Whether or not the person will continue to use the skills/knowledge developed

When you are assigning tasks to team members you give a complete picture of the task that needs to be done and include an explanation of the authority and specific responsibility a team member has. Provide all information relevant to the performance of the task and the resources (e.g. tools, equipment, etc.) necessary to do the job.

In addition you should:

  • State clearly the results expected and give support and guidance as needed
  • Keep control through regular feedback and periodic reporting. You have delegated the task but still have the ultimate responsibility for satisfactory completion of the task
  • Let everyone who needs to be informed know that the task has been assigned to the team member
  • Do not overload a team member with work and be realistic in your expectations

To assist in the effective monitoring and controlling of work, seek a brief status report from the individual responsible for completing an assigned task at regular intervals.

Organising Your Work

Allocating timeframes to tasks is an integral component of the planning process. Time management is equally important when you are implementing the plan.

When you are considering timeframes in your planning process:

  • Break down big tasks into little tasks and give each little task a realistic deadline; these timeframes should relate to your plan
  • List goals and set priorities indicated by 1, 2, 3, or A, B, C and complete tasks in order of their priority. Without some direction, we tend to prefer to do the 'not crucial' items because they are typically easier to do, take less time and may even be more fun than many of our more important tasks.
  • Have a clear idea of what is expected of you; what you need to achieve above all else

Keep an eye on the time and your progress against your planned timeframe. In emergency situations, there are multiple things that need to be done, in a rapidly changing environment