5 Tips to Deal With an Underperforming Team
As the image shows on this blog, when results aren’t happening, the team look to you!
It can be a draining, almost impossible and energy zapping time as a leader when your team is not delivering on the targets, objectives or strategies you are responsible for. As the leader, the focus is often on you to “sort it” and the personal pressure and responsibility on you to fix it builds quickly and can quite easily become extremely difficult to cope with.
It’s a lonely place as the leader of a team not achieving.
Accordingly, many leaders, managers, business owners – especially in the sales world – will revert to ‘blaming’ individuals, isolating team members (at a moment when they truly need support) or maybe applying the ‘big stick’ or some other form of consequence like constant phone conferences, excessive reporting or similar. I know I’ve been there and guilty of such responses at times.
Experience and my research over several years, has shown me such tactics rarely if ever work. They actually increase the tension, worry and fear in the team, thus increasing the problem.
So how can you begin to tackle the challenge when you are faced with it?
FIVE ”Go to” Tips for an Underperforming Workforce
1. Check that you have a clear ‘purpose’ that the team aligns behind. Do they ‘get’ a motive, or a reason, or an identity behind what is we are striving to do and the WHY? If you have a team mission statement or mantra, is it truly understood and lived? If you can then link in personal purpose – what is in it for them personally to succeed – then you will see a marked increase in energy, effort and performance from everyone because it’s become personal.
2. Do you as the leader take ownership enough? Be critically honest and self-reflective here. I’m sure the list of those who you feel are to blame is perhaps a long list but consider your ownership before wasting energy and focus on external influences. This is YOUR team. These are YOUR goals/targets etc. These are YOUR clients you could be helping and serving more? It is YOUR time to spend coaching/showing/supporting. When you focus all your efforts on what YOU can do as the leader versus what others haven’t, don’t or aren’t, you can begin to form a clarity of action, activity and positive leadership that will make a difference.
3. Look at the systems you have to enable target and goal attainment. The size of the target or the gap to close is not the issue here. Stop focusing upon it and telling the team about it. Focus instead on your systems. What do you have, use, need to create, need to refine in order to have your team seeing more clients, having more chats, making more proposals, knowing your products and solutions better? Give the team the systems and thus the platform to win.
4. Action is a start. Positive action is when momentum begins. Sending messages, emails, calling conference calls or meetings is sometimes an understandable requirement. However, it is the power of positive action that you need to leverage. The challenge here is it is your role to remove barriers to action.
If your team, or individuals in your team, have issues, challenges or barriers to taking the actions you need, especially once the ‘systems’ in point 3 have been established, you have to remove those barriers quickly. Is it fear, is it stepping out of comfort zones, it is procrastination? Whatever is stopping your team taking positive action, you have to resolve it. If it’s different for every person then so be it but it’s called situational leadership. Take each situation on its merits and fix it.
5. Build habits. Positive habits. Repetition is the mother of success. Doing positive activities day in, day out, week in, week out, may seem boring and repetitive but I’m sorry, they work! Finding 5 minutes a day to chat to everyone and encourage, chat, inspire may make you feel bored when you see it in your schedule or diary each day but it matters much more than you think.
When you start a good habit and then stop, people notice and question your commitment. When you start a positive habit as a leader and stick to it, your team know you are committed, you are reliable and you are holding up your promises. You then have every right to call in such commitments and promises from your team! If you stick to the promises and commitments you made, then you have every right to challenge and call in those who aren’t doing theirs.
Focus on Your Why & Align
I’ve been fortunate to lead many successful teams over some 30 years in business and in the process of writing my books and thinking back on WHY we succeeded, several of these suggested points were well and truly evident and in play.
The same can be said when I have struggled with teams and success was rare or not evident. Upon reflection, we were missing most, if not all, of the above.
When I took ownership and started to apply the tips as described, we made progress.
#management #business #leadership #motivation #successcode #keynotespeaker