Many of us recall people in our professional lives who have inspired us to do our best-a great manager, a team leader who believed in our potential, a supervisor we worked well with. Much of team leadership is seeing the talents of others and enabling them to achieve their best. The resources here will guide your behaviour as a team leader and help you to develop your team management approach.


Managing the work of others

You have multiple work plans or streams to manage and in many cases, not as many people to get the work done as would be ideal. Key to managing effectively is to use everyone, including you, for greatest impact. This involves setting appropriate workplans and keeping everyone on track. It pays to periodically assess the levels of initiative you expect from others: to what degree they can act on their own and report back, compared to areas of work where you are more closely involved. 
> Go the library of articles and how-to tools on the site of the Harvard Business Review to identify resources that fit your needs for help with managing the work of others.

Appropriate use of power and authority

Everyone has informal power in the workplace as we use our expertise and form relationships to get things done. Supervisors and managers also have the formal power or authority to take certain actions, such as hiring staff or procuring goods.  Use your informal and formal powers well and you will get the best out of your team. Misuse them and everything becomes more difficult. Here are some actions that will help build trust. And when you have a solid base of trust, your team will understand and support your decisions, based on their experience with your reason, transparency and ability to listen. 

  • Collect team input about important changes that will affect them. Let them know that you want to hear all sides of a situation before a decision is made.
  • Explain your reasons when you make decisions that affect your team.  Giving clear, transparent explanations whenever possible will generate trust and respect among your team members.
  • Make staff-related decisions with policies and staff well-being in mind. If you have to make a decision about a staff member with whom you’ve had a rocky relationship, ask your manager or a trusted peer to review the situation with you and provide objective advice.

Do not:

  • Force or threaten a staff member to do something. You may need to give direction that a staff member does not agree with or like – and in that case, do so with transparent explanation of the best interests of the Organization, in accordance with the rules and regulations.
  • Ask staff members to carry out activities for your personal needs. Just as you would not expect one of them to ask you to make copies of your personal documents or to call a child’s school, do not ask them to do those tasks.
  • Misuse your access to information as a means of reward – doling out pieces to preferred staff members and leaving others out of the loop.

Building networks and partnerships

Networks are built on the basis of mutual exchange. Consider the other teams around yours and the interconnections your work has with theirs. Look for opportunities to be valuable to others, and they will likely return the effort. 
Some strategies:

  • Offer others your help with a challenge – suggest joint brainstorming or to be a sounding board for ideas
  • Build a reputation for reliability by immediately following through on what you and your team promise. This builds the trust that makes others think of you when they need formal or informal help.
  • Join the Unite Connections groups that are relevant to your work and interests, and post relevant comments or articles that show you are engaged with the issues. Make sure your team members participate.
  • At meetings, ensure that you introduce yourself to anyone you have not met.
  • Personalize your emails and phone calls with a short reference to the other’s work or personal life, or something that is a current interest. The human touch is always welcome and it is remembered.
  • Suggest face-to-face meetings with newer contacts and with colleagues who share common work challenges.
  • Grow your network by connecting people when you believe they can benefit from each others’ experience or expertise.

Developing regular communication with staff members

Assumptions – about who needs to know what, or who has the same information you have, or who is affected by certain information – can create situations where you must recover both trust and missed opportunities stemming from poor communication. Create a number of different channels for the general information flow as well as the strategic data flow between and among you and the team members. 

  • Give everyone access to the Department/Office strategic plan (goals and strategies about how those goals will be reached) and the related plans for the team. Provide regular updates that you receive about progress in other teams.
  • Ensure that everyone knows how to use the HR Portal to understand the policies and carry out self-service activities (learning, benefits and allowances, etc).
  • Keep a shared point of access to the documented routine procedures – how unit tasks are conducted and by whom.
  • Stay on track with performance review process so that everyone receives and participates in their appraisals, goals for the year, improvement and development planning, and career conversations. Read this guidance on how and when to hold career conversations.


  • Hold regular team meetings (at least every two weeks). Make the agenda engaging – in status reports, ask team members to emphasize interaction and collaboration points – the parts of the work where integration with others occur. This raises the level of meeting conversation to the practicalities of delivery as well as status. Call special meetings to celebrate major accomplishments.
  • Have informal face-to-face contact with your team members every day, and at least once a week with those not in your physical location.
  • Talk with a wide range of persons at different levels who will share with you what is heard on the "grapevine." If you hear various perspectives on a regular basis you will be clued in to how organizational issues are being viewed, and you can tailor your communications accordingly.
  • Use a template for brief weekly written status reports – what tasks have been done, what is planned for the week ahead, and any issues needing attention. Status reports force a reflection on goal accomplishment and allow you and the team members to have mutual understanding of what is going on.
  • Review overall status of work activities with each team member once a month to monitor status and exchange feedback and questions.

Developing your managerial style

Managerial style is not a one-size-fits-all. Studies have repeatedly shown that effective management is the art of choosing from a set of useful styles to flexibly apply a style that is appropriate for the people involved, the situation, and the work being done. 
There is a wealth of information for managers in books and other resources about effective managerial styles. When you read about them, think about how you typically behave and how you might develop flexibility in how you relate to people on your team and the different situations you manage. 
Resources on ‘flexing’ your style: 

  • Daniel Goleman explores managerial styles in his book “Primal Leadership,” explaining that most managers have a “default” style of managing — behaviours they fall into instinctively—and can learn to shift out of that style and into another that’s better for the moment.
    > Go to Goleman’s website
  • Adizes Management Styles explains the proposition of Dr. Ichak Adizes that the fundamental role of management for any team, department, company, family, or even country, can be defined by just four basic functions.
    > Go to Adizes website for synopses of his research and access to his books.

Encourage creativity/innovation

Your team can benefit from online practical tools on how to invent, adopt or adapt ideas that can deliver better results, are simple to use and ready to download. Read background about the stages of innovation. Try out the tools that are most relevant to your needs. 
> Visit the Innovation Toolkit site

Lead a team

Effective team leadership starts at the ground level – with your relationships with individual team members and your discovery of their talents – and then how you bring that together in a collaborative way with a focus on goals. 

  • Create interpersonal respect and collaborative habits within the team through your modelling of these behaviours.
  • Recognize staff members for how productively and collaboratively they achieve their goals. Give appreciative feedback, celebrate the wins, and share stories about contributions large and small.
  • Focus team-building on the interpersonal tools necessary to forge productive relationships – in the team and with clients and partners.
  • Explain and support each person’s role and that role’s importance to the overall goals
  • Determine where any disengagement – felt by an individual, noticed by a client, or due to your inattention – has derailed the team’s commitment or progress. Identify a strategy to turn that around.
  • Champion the mindset of change – that the work can change while the goals remain profoundly important – and ensure everyone knows they play a role in seeing it through.
  • Keep building your leadership tools. When you start your work with a new team review your Profile and adjust the priorities related to the skills you most need to be effective.

Proactively build effective relationships with former peers

Everything you do as a manager has implications. When you have worked with some of your team members before, you need a fresh start with each person.

  • Supervising former peers 
    Have a private conversation with each one. Let them know that your focus is on the shared goals while giving attention to their individual aspirations. If your prior relationship was as personal friends, be candid about how your  change of position will affect your interactions—at times there will be information you can’t share, and socializing together in the same manner as before might impact the perceptions of your fairness among team members. Make the point that you both have a stake in keeping the relationship on a professional footing, so that you can exchange feedback openly and support the person in achieving his/her best work. You will have to demonstrate the new relationship day-by-day with each person as you move forward. Keep in mind that the whole team will be watching how you handle this – it is a major test of whether they can put their trust in you.
  • Read more about this topic: How to Manage Your Former Peers (from the Harvard Business Review - see link below)

Welcome new staff to your team

Research has shown that the decision to join an organization is followed in the first year by a second decision: whether to stay and invest oneself, or leave. In the first three to twelve months on the job most people continue to seek evidence that their decision to join was a good one. 
The effort you make to select the right person has to be shifted, once the person joins, toward influencing his/her decision to stay. Why is this your role? Because a new staff member’s experience with his/her manager sets the tone for what it will be like to be part of the larger Organization. The formula for commitment is made up of both meaningful work and support of the supervisor. Your managerial behaviour will influence the individual’s motivation and choice to commit to a UN career. 
This holds true for staff members who are new to your team with some UN experience behind them—they will determine early on if they made the right choice or if they want to move on.  There are specific things to do during that early critical time when a staff member joins your team. 
Manager’s Checklist: New Team Member
Before the starting day

  • Personally send a welcome email and/or make a phone call to connect with the individual.
  • Check that you have both completed the ‘on-boarding’ process (follow the steps in the Work Events: New Hire page of the HR Portal) and the person’s workspace is completely ready.
  • Reflect and prepare the goals for the new person’s work—what is the bigger picture and strategic importance of the work; what is expected; where do you see the biggest challenges; in what specific areas does the team need this person’s expertise and strengths?
  • Have conversations with the other team members about how to best integrate the new person into the life of the team and the work of the unit.
  • Think also about the manager you want to be—what do you hope your staff will tell the new member about your management style? If the picture is not as you would like it to be, in what ways should you adjust your style and behaviour? Making those adjustments now will influence not only the new person, but the whole team.

First day

  • Be there to greet the new staff member when he/she begins and ensure that you or some team members take the new person to lunch.
  • Engage the new person in the work of the unit immediately – immersion in the work fosters commitment.

First week

  • Discuss the workplan for the individual and the team/unit in detail and provide any supporting resources necessary for the person to jump right into producing results.
  • Include discussion of how you will work together – to what degree the person can act on his/her own, when to consult, where you see the person taking the lead, and any other points about the working relationship – to set a cordial and open tone.

First six months

  • Give frequent feedback that is specific and encouraging. New people have many ideas and though you might not be able to implement all of them, be willing to try more often than not.
  • Observe how the new staff member integrates into the team, formally and informally. Good working relationships as well as cordial interpersonal relationships help an individual to feel a part of things.
  • Ask the staff member to think about a developmental plan – what they see as the next learning phase, what they will find challenging to work on. Let the person know that you support their continuous growth.

Team-building resources

OHR offers assistance to team leaders seeking to build team capabilities through tailored approaches, based on a discussion of needs and the availability of resources.
Why and when should you conduct a team exercise?
Stepping back from the day-to-day for a team exercise helps a team plan ahead, build relationships and resolve challenges. Offices and teams may avail of a teambuilding workshop to address the following opportunities:

  • When teams are newly formed, or if they have undergone significant change in membership or leadership
  • When there has been a significant shift in the team’s priorities or there is misalignment between the team’s current functions and how the team needs to work in the future
  • When the whole team needs to engage in formulating its response to a change
  • When unresolved conflicts hold the team’s performance back
  • When circumstances require the team realign its direction and goals
  • When collaboration requires understanding among team members of roles and responsibilities

The session is designed and led by a neutral facilitator who assesses the needs and tailors an approach for the particular objectives of each team. All information shared with the facilitator is advisory and confidential.

More details are available on this request form. Submit the form to the Organizational Development Section in OHR, at A Staff Development Officer will meet with the unit head to discuss needs and options.

Important documents: