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Managing A Growing Team: The How-To As a leader, it's important to understand the difference between power versus influence. When you use influence to lead, you'll build deeper trust and loyalty with your team.

By Iliana Orietta

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Managing a constantly growing team effectively involves a combination of skills and strategies that can help you lead your team towards success. In my role as the Senior Marketing Director of the DayLife Division and the Head of Corporate Marcom at Sunset Hospitality Group (SHG), my goal as a team leader is, of course, to help the members of my team to align with the department's targets and overarching strategic goals. But, ultimately, it is to mentor and inspire.

Here are my five tips on how to manage a growing team:

1. Find the right talent

Identify your needs. At SHG, it's a must to identify your hiring needs, and map out a clear scope. Plus, hire for the future- not just for what you need right now. When deciding on the person, ask yourself, as my department grows and changes, does this person have transversal skills to align with the growth? Where would this person fit in, and do they have potential to grow themselves?

Check all the boxes. Even though each post and each brand is different, there is a certain type of "Sunset personality" that we search for. We hire for diversity, open-mindedness, industry expertise, and knowledge, and I personally look for results-driven people with a good work ethic as well as the capabilities for that specific role. I love that all of my team members are very different, but they fit together, and it works.

Follow your intuition. If there is one piece of advice to hold on to, I'd say it's to remember that your instincts don't lie- sometimes, you just have a feeling. It's hard to combine characters and talents, but after years in the industry managing teams, you learn how to read and trust people. What I've found is that it doesn't always go as planned, as, sometimes, people over-promise during interviews, and then they don't deliver. Regardless of how good you "sell" yourself at an interview, you need to really perform if you want to be part of the level of performance we strive for at SHG.

2. Empower your team

Avoid micromanaging. From my past experience, I have learnt what not to do, and one of them is micromanaging. Be clear about the final expectation, rather than the means of achieving it, and if you've selected the right person to begin with, they should already be mature and proactive enough to get things done. In the past, I used to have control over everything; so, delegating to a team was challenging at the beginning. With time, I learned how to give power to my team, and trust their skills. This way I helped myself to become a better leader, and I also helped my team by empowering them, and showing them how to become confident, stronger, and accountable.

Promote autonomy- delegate. You need to be able to empty your plate to focus on your own mission. So, give your people the tools they need, as well as the authority to implement procedures, and let them fly. When it comes to my team, I guide and collaborate (rather than dictate), and I believe you get the best out of your people by working with them (not against them). One of the most satisfactory aspects of my job is to pass to my team my knowledge after so many years in the industry. Discussing the basic marketing pillars, sharing examples, and brainstorming with them will be always my favorite thing. And seeing them become stronger, more knowl- edgeable, and independent is my pride.

Challenge and grow. Even if it is uncomfortable, don't be afraid to challenge your team– they will not grow if they stay in their comfort zones. I'd also recommend installing key values within your team. For example, you can enforce autonomy, empathy, adaptability, and intellectual growth. As a leader, you will use these values as foundational building blocks on which your team can grow.

Related: Breaking Patterns: The Problem With Unconscious Bias In The Middle East's Workplaces (And How To Manage It)

3. Clear communication

Lay down the foundation. You'd be surprised at how many "communications" companies aren't very good communicators! Start by communicating your team's purpose and each member's role. It's also important to communicate the company's vision. Once you've outlined the big picture along with your expectations, then the smaller operations will flow.

Encourage 360 feedback. At SHG, we have an open-door policy- the lines are open, and we strive to ensure clear communication, and to listen to all ideas. Listening is very important. Give your team the space to speak up, share ideas, and talk their minds. The minute you give space to their imagination and creativity, magic can happen. Show them daily that you are teachable, and that you can learn from them. A good leader shows by his team.

Be transparent. Essential for the open dialogue that's needed for group empowerment, transparency on your part will also encourage open communication on theirs. Keeping the team informed is not only effective operationally, but it also indicates that they are recognized as an integral part of the company's workforce, and included in the decision-making process.

4. Be a master multi-tasker

Managing the juggle. You really have to be on it. It can be chaotic inside your head, and the frenetic pace of making sure all of those projects progress can feel like you're spinning plates; so, strong organization is key. My secret weapon is having multiple to-do lists; one per brand. It's like juggling many oranges at the same time up in the air. And without valuable support from my team, I could not do it.

Keep learning, keep evolving. Don't be too proud to ask for advice from your manager or your peers, and encourage the same ethos to your team members. Your colleagues may have hacks and shortcuts to ensure a smoother workflow, or offer ideas on how to overcome any hurdles.

Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself if you make a mistake. You are not superhuman; so, it is likely that you'll make a mistake. It's normal in environments so fluid and busy. Own your mistake, learn from it, and don't repeat it. For example, during a photoshoot, we didn't plan the shots sequence properly, which resulted in delays and frustrations. The next shoot was carefully planned in order to avoid the same issues, and we were much more efficient and productive, allowing all teams to deliver their best results.

Related: Inclusivity Matters: Speeding Up Gender Diversity (And Breaking Glass Ceilings) For Female Board Members In The GCC

5. Do not discount trust

Build relationships. Trust is the foundation of leadership and in any working relationship. Senior management appointed you to lead because they trust in you as the best person for the job, and you employed your team because you trust in their capabilities. Your team should also trust and respect you in return. Trust is earned, and the minute you have a team that supports and encourages each other, you are set for success. Building the team I have at the moment is one of my favorite achievements as each one of them is trustworthy, hardworking, visionary, and funny, which is important for the spirit of the team!

Show emotional intelligence. Let your team know that you care about each of them, and value their feelings. Demonstrate emotional intelligence in the workplace by watching for changes in behavior, and responding thoughtfully. Also, getting to know your people will help you to identify their skills as well as their ways of working.

Lead with influence. This is a great opportunity to lead by example, inspire, and educate. As a leader, it's important to understand the difference between power versus influence. When you use influence to lead, you'll build deeper trust and loyalty with your team. At SHG, we treat our culture as a business priority- after all, the people are the backbone of our success. I really hope I lead by example. It's important to me to show my team they can make mistakes, recover, aim high, and speak openly. Creating a fun environment where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and heard is important to me.

Related: Managing Your Modern Workforce In The MENA Region: The How-To

Iliana Orietta is the Senior Marketing Director of the DayLife Division and the Head of Corporate Marcom, Sunset Hospitality Group (SHG). Iliana leads the marketing for numerous lifestyle brands of SHG, and is responsible for heading the group’s Corporate Marketing. Originally from Greece, Iliana brings over 20 years of experience of marketing, sales, event management, and hospitality to her role. Iliana has worked in a variety of fields and capacities throughout her career, all notable experiences honing her skills in developing and executing strategic marketing. Throughout her hospitality journey, Iliana made the shift from events and sales to marketing, and found her hunger in conceptualizing, developing, and launching hospitality concepts.
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