How to Help the Leader Fix a Poor Performing Team at Work

By Savithri Subramanian
How to Help the Leader Fix a Poor Performing Team at Work banner

Performance issues crop up in organizations and it is the job of a manager is to understand the root cause of poor performance. Before the conditions of the team take a turn for the worse, it’s time for appropriate action and salvage the business.  Everyone right from their school days works on projects where the entire team has to contribute. Again, in college, they experience teamwork where some members contribute and some do not.  In the workplace, the team will be assigned individual task where a non-performer will get exposed since he has to individually confirm his contribution.

The Manager is collectively responsible for all his teams and must take the onus to see that they all perform. As a leader, he has to fix the poorly performing team at work. When people from different strata of society, different thought processes etc come together in a workplace there is bound to be drama, disagreement, and controversy. When this team fails to cultivate the chemistry that leads to desirable performance and before the environment turns toxic, there are several actions the manager or team leader can take to get the group back on a positive footing with a lot of analysis of the team and the problem in hand.​

Rescue 1.

If it is one person in the team who is the root cause of the team’s problem, it is easier to solve especially if it is identified early.  The team leader or manager can handle it without disturbing the team by using team psychology and cultivating trust. He can take the help of another team member or HR and amicably resolve the problem. He has to resist the urge to point fingers and can even internally transfer the person to another team without making an obvious shift.

Rescue 2

Many times, problems in a team arise when roles and responsibilities are unclear to the team members. Clarity on roles and responsibility is a must when the team is to unitedly work together in a project. Making them craft their unique role description and then pass it out to team members to review will raise the confidence of the team members. Revise the description until the team agrees and post all of the descriptions in a common area for easy reading and reference could be a strategy that can be adopted by the team leader or manager.

Rescue 3

Often, team members hesitate to offer feedback and constructive criticism to the person in charge. Encourage by staging a survey that allows team members to share their views on the leader’s performance and behaviors. Let them submit the survey anonymously and make certain to summarize and share the feedback—good and bad—and then commit to specific improvements.  The same can be done on team members encouraging them to share feedbacks—this will indirectly help members to know their drawbacks and will help them to correct themselves.

Rescue 4

Organize workshops where all the teams participate and share their group’s success, navigated difficult decisions, their accountability for actions and living up to commitments, how team dealt with differences of opinion and like topics. This becomes an interactive session in which teams understand to solve their problems by listening to other team members.

Team leaders should resist the urge to focus on personality or interpersonal dynamics and focus instead on tasks and processes.

Rescue 5

After taking a few of the corrective actions if the problem persists, there should be a one-on-one discussion offering feedback and ask for a commitment to behavioral improvements. Be as specific as possible. Only business implications of adverse behaviors should be highlighted and indicate that the individual is accountable for improvements. If those improvements happen, great. If not, take steps to remove the individual from the team.

The Bottom-Line

The hard-core truth is that diverse people who bring different life experiences, uncommon work experiences, varying degrees of success working with former teams, the accomplishment of prior team missions, come together melding this diversity to form a new team for the project in hand. The team leaders or managers must keep in mind they are dealing with adults who have a right to pursue a career. Hence, they should focus on tasks and processes and keep out comparisons and interpersonal dynamics. Team leaders have a great responsibility in developing effective functioning teams keeping their organization goals in mind with successful teamwork.

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