how to manage multiple teams

How to Manage Multiple Teams

When I started my career, I considered managers of multiple teams to be super-impressive. I was impressed by these managers’ authority, exposure, and accountability and would long to manage multiple teams. 

Now that I’m managing several teams at ClickUp, I realize it’s not all rainbows. Managing multiple teams is challenging, and I get that. 

Successful multi-team management requires strategic planning, the right tools, and having a high emotional quotient (EQ) to understand your team members.

Your leadership success hinges on your ability to delegate and manage. However, with the right technology and smart techniques, this doesn’t have to be difficult. 

In this article, I’ve shared a comprehensive guide on managing multiple teams, highlighting the core challenges, strategies, and principles of becoming a better leader. 🤝

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Challenges of Managing Multiple Teams

Leading a team in software development is challenging, and overseeing multiple teams doubles those challenges. 

  • Conflicting priorities: Managing multiple projects comes with overlapping deadlines, so prioritizing tasks, dependencies, and resource allocation becomes complex and requires careful decision-making
  • Communication silos: It’s easy for remote teams to operate in isolation. I’ve worked in a dark dorm room for days. But, this breeds misunderstanding, double-work, and missed opportunities from cross-team collaboration
  • Varying work styles and processes: Teams may naturally develop different execution methodologies. A lack of standardization makes it difficult for you to track progress, anticipate bottlenecks, or shift resources
  • Distributed knowledge: In a multi-team environment, critical information risks becoming fragmented. Maintaining knowledge bases, promoting documentation, and encouraging collaborative problem-solving helps mitigate knowledge gaps and bottlenecks
  • Sharing accountability: Ensuring individual accountability is a challenge when responsibilities are shared across teams. Assigning clear roles, project milestones, and reporting structures boosts transparency and helps track performance

Let’s understand how to mitigate these issues through processes and tools tailored to software development needs.

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How to Manage Multiple Teams: 10 Proven Strategies

We need thoughtful planning, open communication, and the right tools to tackle those challenges. Here are some key strategies that have worked for me:

1. Establish roles, responsibilities, and expectations

Start with outlining specific focus areas for teams. Lead in with the question—How does each team contribute to the bigger picture?

To deliver high-quality results, pay attention to details and collaborate, whether building software features, managing components (frontend, backend, database), or focusing on a specific phase of software development (design, engineering, testing).

ClickUp Dashboard’s hierarchy-style view is great for creating individual team spaces with custom task statuses and workflows. It’s perfect for grouping yet clarifying each team’s focus areas within the larger project. 

If necessary, you can also tag team members with specific role tags (e.g., lead developer, technical architect, QA lead).

ClickUp’s Box View
Leverage ClickUp’s Dashboard to establish clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations

The more you can confidently delegate, the less you need to micromanage your team. However, ensure your line managers understand their roles, authority, and expectations.

2. Master the art of communication and collaboration

Communication and collaboration go hand-in-hand with people management. Get this wrong, and your project takes a nosedive. 

Daily standups or Scrum meetings are the best way to synchronize and improve team collaboration. Having them regularly enhances project transparency and evokes immediate discussions.

ClickUp Whiteboards facilitate multi-team discussions or team activities by providing a visual canvas with freehand drawings, shapes, and notes to ideate and map out team dependencies. 

ClickUp Whiteboard
ClickUp Whiteboards for team retrospective meeting

ClickUp’s in-app Chat promotes real-time communication for teams working remotely or at different locations. With @mentions, you can add anyone to work conversations and assign comments to keep your team moving on action items.

ClickUp Chat
Use ClickUp Chat to communicate seamlessly with your team members 

3. Implement transparency and visibility

Building transparency across teams allows you to stay on top of team operations. Since you have information on ongoing tasks, team performance, and potential roadblocks, you can make proactive decisions to improve.

What helps?

A real-time dashboard, Kanban boards, or Gantt charts save the day. They help visualize the work progress and task statuses across multiple teams in a single view.

ClickUp offers 15+ views to gain visibility into your project progress. My favorites are Kanban boards and Gantt charts that are highly customizable for any number of tasks or teams.  

ClickUp Gantt
Use Clickup’s Gantt chart to visualize work progress

Another way to enhance transparency in a multi-team environment is by implementing regular (e.g., weekly) status reports from team leads summarizing their achievements, upcoming goals, blockers, and any dependencies on other teams. 

4. Delegate and empower

If you think ‘to delegate’ means ‘to dictate,’ hold my beer! 🍻

In my view, delegating is distributing authority within each team’s domain. This includes choosing who to delegate what to and providing guidance rather than dictating how to achieve those tasks.

For example, if you ask someone to work on a product feature, ensure they understand how the feature will help the team meet their project objectives.

I follow some best practices for effectively delegating tasks in a multi-team environment:

  • Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and assign tasks strategically
  • Set clear expectations—define roles, outcomes, deadlines, and guidelines for each assignment
  • Encourage teams to find creative solutions within their areas of ownership
  • Offer oversight without stifling their autonomy and sense of responsibility
  • Schedule regular 1:1 meetings with team leads to build trust, address challenges, and provide support

ClickUp is a versatile team management platform for delegating tasks and planning meetings. It lets you create detailed task cards, assign tasks, set due dates and priorities, and even track time spent on each task, providing valuable insights into your team’s productivity and workload. 

Here are some of the delegatory features of ClickUp that got my attention:

  • Detailed descriptions: Add comprehensive descriptions to tasks, outlining the scope of work, expectations, and any relevant resources
  • Task creation: Easily create tasks within any view, specifying details like due dates, priorities, and tags
  • Custom statuses: Create custom statuses (e.g., In Review, Blocked) to reflect your specific workflow and track progress more effectively
  • Comments and collaboration: Use the comment section for discussions, questions, and progress updates, fostering collaboration among team members
  • Real-time notifications: ClickUp’s notification system keeps everyone informed about task updates, due dates, and comments
ClickUp Meetings List
Use ClickUp to book regular 1:1 meetings with team leads to strengthen trust

5. Use a project management software

Having a project management software that could centralize and streamline team communications, workflows, and tasks made it much easier for me to manage multiple teams at ClickUp. 

Nevertheless, you should choose a tool that aligns with your teams’ software development workflows and methodologies (e.g., Agile, Scrum, Kanban.) Consider factors like scalability, integrations with other essential tools (Jira, Git, etc.), and overall ease of use.

Look for tools that help visualize and manage allocating people, skills, and even physical resources among teams. ClickUp Project management tool allows for proactive decision-making to prevent over or under-allocation.

ClickUp Project Management
Use ClickUp’s all-in-one project management functions to manage multiple teams seamlessly 

Use the insights generated by your project management software to identify delay patterns. Track team velocity, pinpoint areas for improvement, and effectively demonstrate project progress to stakeholders.

6. Embrace conflict as an opportunity for growth

Teams often have competing goals and objectives. 

For example, the marketing team might prioritize brand awareness, while the finance team wants to control spending. Such diversity is a strength, but it can also lead to conflict. 

To manage the conflict, view it as an opportunity to learn and improve rather than a threat to avoid. Encourage open communication and respectful disagreement. Set ground rules for discussions and ensure everyone feels heard.

You may facilitate constructive discussions between teams when conflict arises. Focus on finding solutions that support the overall project goals.

Publicly recognize individual teams’ victories and highlight achievements to foster collaboration, strengthen team synergy, and contribute to a positive work environment.

Let’s say tensions flare between your backend development team, which is focused on stability, and the frontend team pushing for rapid rollout of new features. You can facilitate a joint workshop to clearly understand each other’s constraints and priorities for better team management. 

7. Adopt an iterative and adaptive mindset

From my experience managing multiple teams, I realized that even the most meticulously crafted project plans encounter roadblocks and unexpected changes. So, be prepared to pivot, re-prioritize, and optimize processes as the project evolves.

Regularly analyze the metrics provided by your project management software and from team feedback. Use this data to iterate workflows and processes as the project evolves intelligently.

ClickUp’s Team Management Plan Template is designed to help you organize and manage your team’s tasks.

Leverage ClickUp’s Team Management Plan template to set expectations, assign tasks, and ensure everyone is on the same page. 

Plan and manage projects with clarity. Use the template to communicate roles to team members even if they are based at multiple locations. Align your team around what’s most important. 

Encourage open and honest team retrospectives and project post-mortems. Focus on identifying what worked well, where there’s room for improvement, and how to prevent similar challenges in future projects.

For instance, government regulatory changes significantly impacted one of my software development projects. Instead of panicking and blaming my luck, I thoroughly reassessed the situation with every team member and revised my project plan with them to make the product legal-compliant.

Having an adaptive growth mindset helps you navigate through potential roadblocks. It allows you to choose a different path to project success, even when uncertainties arise. 

8. Invest in cross-team skill development

For better team management, facilitate sessions where team members present their specialized skills to build a broader understanding of the project’s components and help with problem-solving during crunch times.

Allow short-term rotations or embed team members to foster empathy and understanding between teams with very different focus areas (for example, a backend developer spending time with the UX design team).

Pairing developers across teams helps spread knowledge, reduces single points of failure, and encourages the exploration of new techniques and coding styles.

9. Prioritize team and individual development

Continuous learning and development are essential to keep skills sharp and prevent stagnation. Here are three ways to prioritize team development:

  • Block off time within project schedules or budgets for upskilling, attending conferences, or pursuing online courses
  • Encourage mentorship pairings between experienced and newer team members within and across teams
  • Highlight individual achievements and new skills acquired. It creates a positive learning environment and demonstrates that personal growth is valued as much as project deliverables

Suppose you notice a decline in team motivation. You can institute a policy dedicating some project time to professional development. Team members should use this time to mix structured learning and explore new technologies. 

10. Emphasize risk management and mitigation

Involve all teams in brainstorming potential project-wide risks (technical, resource, market, dependencies, etc.). This encourages shared ownership of risk mitigation strategies. 

Use your project management software or a dedicated tool to track risks centrally, their probability of occurrence, potential impact, and mitigation plans and effectively manage multiple teams.

Regularly update teams on evolving risks and mitigation plans. This eliminates surprises and prepares teams for potential adjustments.

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Incorporating Key Principles in Managing Multiple Teams 

Successful multi-team management in software development extends beyond logistics and tools. The principles below have proven repeatedly to foster a high-performing and thriving team environment:

Delegation

Delegation allows you to give your team the power to make decisions within their domain. It frees your time and allows teams to feel greater ownership of their work—but only if done right!

How do I delegate my work?

The Eisenhower Matrix is my go-to tool for prioritizing tasks and managing my time.

ClickUp’s Eisenhower Matrix Template is designed to help you make better decisions by prioritizing tasks based on importance and urgency.

ClickUp’s Eisenhower Matrix Template is excellent for prioritizing tasks based on their urgency and importance. This Whiteboard template includes:

  • Custom statuses: Create tasks with various custom statuses to differentiate between tasks that need to be done immediately and those that can wait
  • Custom fields: Categorize and add attributes to manage your tasks and easily visualize task importance and urgency
  • Custom views: Start with this Whiteboard template and build out your ClickUp workflow, which includes List, Gantt, Workload, Calendar, and more
  • Project management: Improve task prioritization with collaboration, dependency warnings, reminders, and more

To use the Eisenhower Matrix, first list all your tasks in one of four quadrants:

  • Important and urgent: Tasks that are urgent and important
  • Important but not urgent: Tasks that are important but can be scheduled for later
  • Urgent but not important: Tasks that you can delegate to your team
  • Not important or urgent: Tasks that you can eliminate or defer (for a specific time)

Once you have placed all tasks in the appropriate quadrants, you can start delegating the Urgent but not Important tasks.

👀Note: When you delegate a task, provide clear instructions and expectations. You should also check in regularly to ensure the task is being completed as expected.

Micromanagement stifles team initiative. However, delegating without sufficient structure can lead to misalignment with the broader project vision.

Mentorship

Pairing experienced team members with less experienced ones builds internal knowledge-sharing networks, accelerates development, and fosters a culture of continuous learning.

According to a Deloitte’s people survey, employees who receive mentoring are 77% more likely to stay with their organization. Project managers should identify mentorship opportunities both within and across teams.

Mentorship, paired with effective delegation, contributes to self-sufficient teams. It ultimately results in teams taking ownership of their work and being able to solve problems proactively. 

Creativity

Problem-solving in software development often requires out-of-the-box thinking. Encourage brainstorming sessions to give room for diverse perspectives and reward teams for creative solutions. Teams should feel comfortable taking calculated risks and experimenting without fear of failure. 

Team building

Invest time in virtual or in-person activities outside project pressures that allow teams to connect and build rapport. Understanding individual strengths and working styles improves cross-team collaboration.

When feasible, consider team-building exercises tailored to software development (e.g., coding challenges, hackathons) and off-site retreats for larger teams.

Motivation

Team motivation goes beyond compensation and benefits. Recognize achievements, tie individual work to the bigger picture, provide growth opportunities, and be attuned to signs of burnout. 

Implement regular 1:1s focused on career development, solicit team feedback on what matters to them, and publicly celebrate team wins to maintain morale.

Successful multi-team management within software development hinges on a balance between providing structure and allowing for autonomy. 

Nurturing a learning environment, embracing creativity, and focusing on team dynamics create the foundation for engaged and high-performing teams.

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Deliver Exceptional Project Outcomes with ClickUp

If you’re looking to simplify workflow with multiple teams, you need a blend of skilled leadership and powerful tools to manage a software development team effectively.

A versatile project management tool like ClickUp can simplify the application of the strategies we’ve explored above and support managing multiple teams.

ClickUp is an all-in-one tool with customization capabilities, resource management features, and real-time collaboration tools that provide the structure your teams need to execute these principles successfully. 

Combine your project management expertise with ClickUp’s powerful features to orchestrate exceptional outcomes. Sign up to ClickUp today!

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