Article: 4 Things to do if you inherit a team of under-performers

Life @ Work

4 Things to do if you inherit a team of under-performers

Work relationships shouldn't be based on assumptions. As a team manager, you ought to take the initial step to understand your teammates better.
4 Things to do if you inherit a team of under-performers

Have you just been promoted to a manager? Do you have a few years of experience under your sleeves as one? In either case, in your tenure, you are likely to experience a set of unique set of challenges.  There will be times you will be hard-pressed for a time because you will have a lot to keep track of. You won’t just have your work weight to carry but will also be required to stay abreast of how your team is doing. From helping them advance in their career, monitoring their performance to providing critical feedback, you will have a lot on your plate. 

Now the trouble starts pouring in if you inherit an underperforming team. They may have their own reasons for not giving their best. It could be that they might have worked with an underperforming boss? Or they are misfits for their role profile? Maybe they proper lacked guidance and were forced to find their way? Perhaps it’s intentional because they are resisting change of boss situation? Whatever the reason, you should not reach work underprepared or unprepared for teamwork. Clearly, because being a manager, you are expected to work in tandem with your team to meet department targets. At the end of the day you cannot blame your team for being the culprit when you should have been a better taskmaster. No? 

So that you vibe with your new team and get them to function as a unit, here’s what you can do:  

Get to know each other

Work relationships shouldn’t be based on assumptions. As a team manager, you ought to take the initial step to understand your teammates better. Each individual comes with a set of attributes that can be used to make a team deliver. Figure out their working style; strengths and weaknesses and aptitude. If there is a weak link then probe to know what’s keeping them from performing. Why is the reluctance to give 100 per cent so rampant? It is highly likely that they will open up to you and share their concerns. The point is that if you show you care, they will reciprocate.

Set clear expectations and accountability right from the word go

The team you inherit may have functioned in a different manner under their previous boss. It is possible that this transition phase is uncomfortable for them. To make everything clear at the very outset make sure you communicate your expectations as well as listen to theirs. Eventually, hold them accountable for tasks assigned to them. Specify how performance will be measured basis targets achieved. Also, highlight that none of them can get away thinking others can do their work. Instill in them the need to work together to meet team goals that contribute to organisation’s goals.

Believe in the 360-degree performance feedback

Not many organisations encourage a 360-degree feedback, but it’s definitely what the trend should be. Swapni Kamat, Co-founder Work Better Training says, “Just as you give an honest feedback to your team, your team should also be able to speak about your management style. Do highlight where they they are missing the mark and discuss the possibilities of getting back on track.” Ask if they need some sort of a training to learn new skills or hone existing ones. Better still, recommend one so that they are able to see your concern for their professional well-being. This will keep them motivated and engaged with their work. 

Kamat adds, “Reward members who perform consistently well. Acknowledging star performers is bound to motivate others. As an outcome the rest of the team will follow suit and be align themselves to your vision and give their best to meet your expectations of them.” 

If despite this they show a lack of commitment then you may have to reprimand and tell them that your team has no place for underperformers. However, this is not to say that you should fire them immediately. Give them time to turn things around. Sometimes people need some handholding to steer them in the right direction. 

Be there

For your team to trust you, you will have to be there for them. You will have to be constantly engaged with them. One way of doing this is by attending team meetings. Be the first one to show up as it not only shows your involvement but also sets an example of who a good boss is. Participate in team events. Have watercooler conversations. Take team for an outing as it will help break barriers and both parties will get to know the other far better than they would in a restricted, formal set-up. 

Whatever the circumstances that lead you to inherit a team of underperformers, the fact remains the same: you have a role to play. Yes, it’s true that even the most successful leaders sometimes fail to make it out of such situations, but that shouldn’t become your excuse, right? 

You might find yourself amidst conflicts, but never forget that you are their guiding light. If you don’t lead them away from chaos then who will? So, stay alert to their needs and compute new ways of fruitfully collaborating with each other. 

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Topics: Life @ Work

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