How to handle a Department or a Team?

The department or Team may be within the same company where you got a promotion and given the department to handle or you have joined a new company and asked to take over the department or team.

For convenience we will refer to this as a Team. A Team leader after taking over formal charge must meet all the team mates and know their personal details and also listen to their adverse remarks if any, silently. These meetings give an informal insight into each individual’s personality who is part of the team. In the first meeting no work or job is discussed.

Next, with each individual beginning with the senior and ending with the junior, the job or work is discussed in detail and their capability for the job is assessed. Senior people if required are re-allocated their responsibilities and perhaps jobs also. After discussion with juniors the seniors are advised to allocate appropriate jobs to their juniors or reshuffling if required between the junior staff and divided between the seniors.

Once the job allocation issue is settled the Team Leader must look into to and fro communication of the department and also each individual. The department head or Team Leader must look into the communication matters and give suitable directives “who can send what” whether on computer or through hard copy. Some messages have to be directly sent by the head and this he must make it clear to his department.

The team leader must analyse carefully the formal training needs of each individual including the seniors and forward it to the HR department with a staggered schedule. During the training of seniors he must handle their work personally. This way he can understand the department’s work in a better manner.

The physical space occupied by the department including executives, staff, and records must be reviewed and ensure more area is available. This can be done particularly by destroying unwanted records with the permission of the CEO. Of course the staff cannot be displaced for space.

The informal training has to come from the department head. He has to interact with each individual including seniors and guide them from time to time right from writing to work strategies. He has to advise them, give solutions on work related problems and also how to proceed further in the matter.

In the non-technical areas money is involved and small to medium amounts are handled by the staff. By small to medium amounts I mean Rupees 100 to Rupees 10,000. This can be mis-appropriated by staff on utilization. The department head or Team Head has to keep an eye on these expenses by staff and if he finds any staff member lacking integrity on declaring his expenditure then the head must give his recommendation to the HR department to consider sacking of the staff member.

It is also the duty of Team Head to convey all the policy changes, strategies of the organization, new product introduction, new machinery purchase and the task on account of this new machinery purchase etc.

The performance appraisal of direct subordinates meaning those directly reporting to the head has to be very precise and weightage, quantity, key result areas have to be specified without any ambiguity. The departmental boss can also review the tasks set for junior positions.

The head of supply chain management has to regularly take rounds of receipt stores, finished goods stores and periodically hold meetings with transporters. He should also be familiar with latest Roads, Railways and its procedure for despatching goods, and logistic related matters.

The marketing chief if it is an FMCG company should regularly take rounds of markets and also study competitors’ products. Regarding consumer durables and other machinery supplied by the company the marketing chief should understand from the uses how the products are performing and the problems related with their products. I am not giving any examples of other functional area managers.

Providing motivation by giving suitable rewards, benefits, grade changes, and designation changes as per organization’s policy is also the responsibility of department head. These are subject to performance as per the tasks set during performance appraisal.

The top management must also take care of department heads, Team Leaders etc., by sending them out on formal training, seminars and other interactive programs where they can interact with their counterparts from other companies and know what is going on there and whether they can implement any of those ideas.

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