Being a crew leader is often a thankless job. You’re stuck in between the employees on the front lines and the managers to whom you report, and it’s often difficult to keep everyone happy. As a crew leader, you play a critical role in keeping your business up and running. Whether you’re a crew leader in a restaurant, on a construction crew or with another business, you are responsible for ensuring your crew completes their work quickly and accurately.

Being a good crew leader takes patience, flexibility and leadership. You can show your crew how to succeed by setting a good example, working closely with your crew and being fair when you need to hold them accountable for their actions. Think about the crew leaders with whom you’ve worked and use them as an example of how to be (or how not to be) a good crew leader.

Setting a Good Example

Nothing will frustrate your crew faster than being told to do one thing and then seeing you do something else. If they are not allowed to be on their phones when they’re on the clock, you shouldn’t be either. You should be on time and follow the dress code of your organization.

You can also set a good example by doing the same work that they do even if you aren’t required to do so. For example, if you are working in a busy restaurant, jump in and help bus tables or take orders. If there’s a dreaded cleaning task that everybody hates, take a turn doing it yourself.

Offer Feedback Regularly

Depending on your work setting, you may be required to formally evaluate your team. Even if you’re not required to formally evaluate your team members, you should give them regular feedback about how they are doing. If they stepped up during a busy shift or completed a complicated task quickly and accurately, let them know that you appreciate their performance.

If they are struggling or not following your organization’s rules, let them know that as well. Ask them what their plan is for improving. If they are struggling with a job-related task, work alongside them to coach them and help them improve. It can feel awkward to provide corrective feedback, but it’s important for your crew to know what they’re doing well and where they can do better.

Get Feedback Regularly

It’s easy to feel like your voice isn’t being heard, especially in a large organization. Take the time to talk to your crew about what’s working well and what needs to be improved. Your crew members can offer valuable feedback about how to improve operations and morale. Listening to their suggestions and taking them seriously shows your commitment to being a good crew leader.

Be Fair to Your Crew

Treat all your crew members the same way. If you write up one crew member for being tardy, make sure you write up anyone else who is tardy as well. Not being treated fairly can lead your crew to be resentful and less likely to trust you, and that undermines your leadership.

Being fair may mean recommending disciplinary actions for certain crew members. Although this can be difficult, it’s important to ensure the success of your organization. If you are uncertain of what actions to take in a given situation, consult the manager to whom you report for advice. If you feel a team member is being treated unfairly by upper management, advocate for your crew. Your team will respect you if they know you’re on their side.

Set a Positive Tone

Your crew will look to you for their cues. Set a positive tone by meeting challenges with enthusiasm. When they make mistakes, encourage them and help them learn from the situation. When your crew is stretched thin and working hard, thank them for their efforts. Let them know they’re appreciated and that you support them.