(Editor’s Note: PPAI Media’s Voices series introduces the opinions and advice of promo industry influencers on a variety of topics for which they specialize. The opinions and ideas belong to the individual writer and may not represent those of PPAI or their respective employer.)


It’s time for a confession: I, Latisha Marshall, have not always been the best manager for my team members. 

In my last article, I discussed my path to acquiring knowledge in operations, learning from osmosis, being told no and a lot of trial and error. My evolution as a boss has taken a pretty similar route.

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In the early stages of my career, I made a conscious decision to manage with an iron fist. Despite my naturally bubbly and personable demeanor outside of the office, I altered my personality when it came to managing my team. Transitioning from being a peer to a manager, I believed that I needed to be stern and demanding in order to gain respect and achieve results.

My perspective was narrow and transactional when it came to team management, solely focused on hitting targets and meeting numbers. Consequently, I was seen as short, cold and unapproachable. I prioritized work above all else, neglecting the importance of building relationships.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this approach was ineffective and did not foster a successful team environment.

Every employee deserves to have a great manager. So, if you’re new to having people reporting to you, or you still feel like you have some things to learn, I hope you’ll let the things I’ve learned be a guide.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about how to effectively manage a team.

Know That One Size Does Not Fit All

When interacting with your team, know that every individual is different. Each team member may have unique preferences and ways of processing information. Some may be introverts, while others may be extroverts.

To foster team growth, it is crucial to have regular one-on-one sessions and ask thought-provoking questions. There’s an online tool I use to ensure I make the most of these important meetings: Hypercontext. It brings a deliberate approach to meetings and conversations that too many managers take for granted.

Additionally, tools like the DISC personality test – here’s a good abbreviated version of it – can be a great help in understanding your people and how to best work with them. Getting to know your team members individually will significantly improve their engagement and satisfaction.

While it may be challenging with larger teams, it’s important to get creative. Consider conducting small group meetings or finding other ways to connect with individuals. You may be in for some trial and error, and patience is required, but the crucial step in this process is to start.

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Solicit Feedback, Listen And Implement

Creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable and enthusiastic to engage and share is vital for team success. To achieve this, it is crucial to prioritize active listening and seek feedback from team members.

Listening with the intention to understand, rather than merely respond, enables you to provide support and demonstrate that every opinion and perspective is valued.

Soliciting feedback alone is worthwhile, but the true power lies in the implementation of the idea you collect. Your team members are at the forefront, executing tasks and interacting with the day-to-day operations of the business. They possess insights and firsthand knowledge that, when combined with your strategic expertise, can lead to exceptional outcomes and significant impact.

Encouraging questions, celebrating achievements and implementing ideas generated by the team not only strengthens collaboration, but also enhances problem-solving capabilities and boosts retention. Effective communication is a two-way street. Embracing this approach strengthens the bond within the team, encourages open dialogue, and drives innovation.

Set Expectations

Provide clear communications to team members. Clear communication ensures that everyone is on the same page, understands their roles and responsibilities, and can effectively collaborate toward a common goal.

Communicating the “why” behind tasks and projects creates buy-in from team members, breaks down silos and increases the probability of success.

Over-communication is key to ensuring clarity and preventing misunderstandings or errors. By reiterating policies and procedures, you reinforce the guidelines and standards that govern your team’s work. This practice helps everyone stay on the same page and minimizes confusion.


Once expectations have been set, it’s essential to establish a system for measuring progress and evaluating performance.

By documenting and setting milestones, you create a framework that keeps everyone aligned with the goals and provides a roadmap for success. This approach promotes accountability, drives continuous improvement, and allows for data-informed decision-making. S.

Be Consistent

Consistency is a key attribute that distinguishes the undependable from the trustworthy. It plays a crucial role in exposing uncertainty and promotes good habits within a team.

As a leader, it is essential to do what you say you will do and back up your decisions with transparent data. Your team relies on you and your ability to lead successfully. Losing credibility can cause a crack in the foundation of your team.

Practicing impartial decision-making is vital. Swiftly addressing any “C Players” who are not meeting expectations is essential, as nothing undermines a good team faster than an underperforming member who goes unaddressed. Empowering your team and providing support when needed builds their confidence and enthusiasm, allowing them to realize their full potential. Moreover, it demonstrates your trust in their abilities.


People management is undoubtedly one of the most critical aspects of a business. Authenticity, confident leadership, setting boundaries, and empowerment are key elements in cultivating a good working environment.

For anyone new to this area or facing unfamiliar challenges, it may be necessary to reassess your strategies and make improvements to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement, but do not get discouraged.

It is important to recognize that employees are not just defined by their everyday job tasks. Taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate their individual strengths can have a profound impact on their morale, loyalty and overall performance.

People may not remember what you said but they always remember how you make the feel.

Marshall is the vice president of operations at distributor ePromos Promotional Products (PPAI 212648, S11). The No. 19 distributor on the 2023 PPAI 100, ePromos was also named one of promo’s Greatest Companies To Work For in 2023 by PPAI Magazine. A self-described “operations fanatic,” Marshall originally joined the company as a pre-production coordinator in 2004.