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5 Ways to develop an underperforming team

October 2, 2015

When you take over a new team, it is all too easy to dive in at the deep end, after all you've been here for years and you know it all right? Wrong. By doing this, you’ll alienate yourself and probably find that you've made all the same mistakes as the last guy. If you set yourself a few ground rules, you’ll find yourself being followed, without having to ask.


Integrity & honesty

Don't lie to yourself or say yes when you mean no


Vision & Clarity

Be clear about where you want to go and why


Listen with respect

Your team knows more than you do; if they don’t, get a new team


Your job is to lead

Put the right people in the right jobs. They know why they are there, what they need to do and they don’t mind doing it, heck they may even like it.


You are not there to do their jobs for them

You may even feel like you don’t do anything after a while. That is what you’re aiming for, because then you can start thinking about where to take your business.



Here's the top 5 ways to help build that team:


1. Work out your team’s dynamics & where the pain points are

Talk to your team individually to understand their skills, experience, backgrounds and where they want to be. Ask them what they think is wrong in the business and what they would do about it. Don’t judge them, just listen and write it down. Do not get involved in gossip or share your own view about other people; just keep throwing questions back; why do you think that is? How does that make you feel?

You’ll start to see a pattern as you speak to more people - You’ll find the cynic, the one people trust, the doer, the trouble maker, the stars and the hopefuls. You’ll also find the one that has been hiding under a bushel and given the chance could become amazing.
If you find an under performer, work out why. Is it because they’re not ambitious and they just want to come in and work, then go home? Because that might be OK, if everyone wants your job, you’ll never get anything done.


You’ll understand that if you make any changes what the impact will be and you can measure it; the plodder might have been upset when you didn't give them the new senior role; but if you've already talked to them about what they want from a career, you can tell them it’s OK, they don’t have to pretend they want to be the next CEO anymore, they are your cornerstone and you need them.

You’ll see that all of them want to change things and they’ll all have a similar view on how this can be done; they’re normally right, that’s what they get paid for. Don’t be tempted to act on all of this feedback in small chunks; get through the whole team first
Work out if you have the right structure for the team and use the input from them to build out the right team.


2. List the issues and possible solutions

Share this with your boss, talk them through your process for making the recommendation. Share it with your team and credit them for their input; be specific. ‘Tom said that if he could only have a team of 3 people working together, he could achieve far more productivity’ so Tom, we’re going to do it and we need you to lead it’.

3. Provide a vision

Everyone needs to know what you are building, why and what they can do to make it successful.

The vision is a mental image or a concept so it has to be visible

You can’t tell your team just to design wheels if you don't tell them what the wheels are going to be attached to; a truck, a bike or a shopping cart. Be honest about where you are now, never lie to yourself or your team about the position you are in, good or bad. You can tell your market anything you like, but you must know whether or not you really are as good as you think you are. Have a view about what you’re building, but refine it by talking to experts and adapting based on their input; don’t be afraid if they disagree; listen and explain if you do; they will appreciate your view. Don’t dramatically sway from one person’s view to another; it makes you appear erratic. Don’t think you can pretend to get input by running a workshop and getting people to brainstorm; if you don’t do anything with their suggestions, they’ll get frustrated and stop telling you their ideas Don’t think you can have all of the ideas; sometimes, even if it was your idea, it doesn’t matter if you get the credit; their success will lead to yours

Make sure that everyone can articulate the vision and knows exactly what they can do to help achieve it. If people disagree, make sure you have told them why you are doing it anyway; they’ll respect you for it

4. Now you've got a vision you need to work out the details

Don’t do this yourself; empower your teams and ask them to tell you how we’re going to get there. Your job is to remove the barriers, so they can deliver for you, so keep reminding them of the goal and how it is progressing.

5. Measure it and talk about it; hold individuals accountable for success and help them overcome failure.

By respecting the different roles people can play in your team, you can really help them achieve their best work together.

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