Teams have huge potential. Unfortunately there is a huge gulf between potential and performance. Imagine you are one of the best performing leaders and managers in your organisation and you are brought in to lead or manage a team that is not performing. How are you going to respond?
One option might be to read them the riot act and tell them to shape up or ship out. Trouble is they probably know them selves that they are struggling and all you are going to do is end up making them feel even less competent. You will also destroy many relationships in the process.
Another option might be to take over and try and fix them. Again all this does is make them feel worse. You are in effect re-enforcing what they probably know.
Perhaps a huge target might just be what they need. You know that wake up call or reality check.
While all of the above might have some short term attractions, they are rarely good long term choices.
So what might you do with a team that is not performing?
Acknowledge Where They Are
Just you acknowledging where the team is and how much of a struggle it must be for them can make a huge difference. Chances are they will have got so use to being told about their failings that they might have started to believe it and thrown in the towel.
Give Them The Chance To Speak And Really Listen
We all read about and maybe even have experienced the situation where someone or a group of people are brought in to turn things around. While this might make a great headline, these turnaround specialists know the importance of listening. The truth is that even in the poorest teams there are going to elements of good practice.
Take On Board Some Of Their Ideas
There is little benefit of saying to people you want to hear their views and then totally ignoring them. This is many ways is worse than never asking in the first place.
Set Challenging But Not Impossible Goals
You want a team that is not performing to re-discover what it is like to achieve. Setting small challenging goals which are a bit of s stretch but attainable will help build confidence, improve motivation and engagement.
Maybe it is a British thing but in my experience celebrating success is not something that is done that much. For some reason we seem to wallow in the mediocrity. When teams are struggling, the impact of celebrating successes should not be underestimated.
The Bottom Line: Getting the best from teams, especially one that is struggling is not easy. Yet sometimes it is the small changes that yield the biggest benefits.
Duncan Brodie helps accountants and other professionals to become better team leaders. If you are ready to become a more effective team leader, sign up for his free audio e-course.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.