12 Essential Insights for Managing Teams – MIT Sloan Management Review
Written by Ally MacDonald
Teamwork doesn’t just happen — good teams require good leaders who have vision and practiced skills. Leading effective teams today requires laying the groundwork for how team members and the wider organization will be successful. We’ve collected a dozen of our most popular articles on leading teams from our archives.
This collection, all of which are free on our site Tuesday, March 24, through Thursday, March 26, offers a range of actionable advice for managers on how to foster trust and accountability, resolve conflicts, and bridge geographic distances on distributed teams. Readers will benefit from decades of research from academics and practitioners on the skills and effective approaches leaders need to manage diverse teams to enhance collaboration and achieve better performance.
Christine M. Pearson
Whether provoked by bad decisions, misfortune, poor timing, or employees’ personal problems, no organization is immune from bad feelings. Many executives try to ignore negative emotions in the workplace, but that tactic can be costly. When employees’ negative feelings are responded to wisely, they often provide important feedback.
Ginka Toegel and Jean-Louis Barsoux
The more undiscussables there are on your team, the more difficult it is for the team to function effectively. Ignoring unresolved conflicts results in strained relationships and bad decisions. This article outlines how leaders can bring the four types of undiscussables to light, improving team learning, problem-solving, and performance.
Andrew Davies, Mark Dodgson, David M. Gann, and Samuel C. MacAulay
Large-scale, long-term projects are notoriously difficult to manage. But research on megaprojects — defined as projects costing more than $1 billion — reveals five lessons that can help executives manage any big, complex project more effectively.
N. Sharon Hill and Kathryn M. Bartol
When it comes to managing your virtual team’s success, it’s not the technology that matters — it’s how people use it. This article looks at five strategies for conquering distance and improving communication and performance in dispersed teams.
Liz Fosslien and Mollie West-Duffy
A common question among leaders about managing remote teams is how to ensure that employees feel connected to their work and to their colleagues. There are practical steps managers and colleagues can take to make their remote employees feel valuable and ingrained in company culture.
Frank Siebdrat, Martin Hoegl, and Holger Ernst
Dispersed teams can actually outperform groups that are colocated. Based on an investigation of the performance of 80 software development projects with varying levels of dispersion — members in different cities, countries, or continents — this article asserts that virtual teams offer tremendous opportunities despite their greater managerial challenges. To succeed, however, virtual collaboration must be managed in specific ways.
Lindred (Lindy) Greer, interviewed by Frieda Klotz
While flat organizational structures have gained favor in recent years, hierarchies continue to provide many important benefits, says the University of Michigan’s Lindy Greer. Depending on the circumstances, the answer isn’t to eliminate hierarchy but to train leaders and teams to use it flexibly.
Evan Apfelbaum, interviewed by Martha E. Mangelsdorf
Diversity in the workplace can increase conflict. But research also suggests that if teams lack diversity, they will be more susceptible to making flawed decisions.
Ethan Bernstein, Jesse Shore, and David Lazer
With so many digital tools in the workplace, team collaboration has gone omnichannel. Given how hyperconnected people are, the authors set out to explore the implications for organizations and teams. Their research demonstrates how alternating between always-on connectivity and heads-down focus is essential for problem-solving.
Amy Edmondson, interviewed by Frieda Klotz
Many of today’s team projects have built-in hurdles because of differing communication styles, cultures, and professional norms. Leading this kind of “extreme teaming” requires management skills that don’t always come naturally — such as humility.