Tips to turn around an underperforming team

Master these performance management strategies that will help you transform your team.
By Priya Prakasan

Dealing with a poorly performing team can be a challenging task, and requires significant time and investment from the leader. It is also an opportunity to further develop leadership and management skills, while having a significant impact on the organisation. So how do you make your team more than just the sum of its parts? Here are some tips.

1. Address the toxic environment
Instead of targeting poor performers focus on the whole team and highlight the problems being faced. Let them know you are on their side and focus on the issues you want to see corrected to see improved performance. Since this is the first step, steer clear of pinpointing the blame on any individual. Doing so will further ruin the situation and its possible other employees might wonder if you’re coming for them next. This will endanger the bond and trust you’ve worked so hard to build.

2. Redefine your goals
As a leader you need to provide direction, guidance and clarity on what exactly has to be accomplished. If the team isn’t delivering the expected results consider if you’ve set clear and tangible goals for employees. Have you provided your definition of a good and bad performance? It might be time to redefine the individual and team goals, and provide greater clarity on what on the goals and standards expected. Consider an assimilation process and engage in a dialogue to have transparency about the current roles. Modify them if required and address any ability issues that might crop us. Also, be open to feedback and constructive criticism, so that you know what to work when creating a revised plan.

3. Define what kind of teamwork you expect
Take a good hard look at your team. Is it more than just a group of people coming together to work? How in sync are they individually when it comes to a shared sense of purpose? Do they feel a shared sense of responsibility? Do you involve them in decisions, setting goals, and identifying their performance criteria? If not you need to start taking steps to build this sense of team among your employees. Also, make sure the team is in sync with the vision of the kind of teamwork you are aiming for. Choose a teamwork model that works the best for your team. You can implement one where members perform individually for the most part to produce the final output or one where they focus on both individual performances as well as coordination/handover. Other forms of teamwork include those lend themselves to asynchronous communication methods, challenge of flexible roles or coordinated individual performances with an improvised response from several key team members in case of a crisis.

4. Illustrate how team activities impact organisational goals
It is very important for team members to understand how their individual and team goals align with the larger company goals. This can play as a major motivation tool to make them understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture as their day-to-day activities do add value and impact the organisation. Similarly, their underperformance can negatively impact customers, peers, etc. Clearly stating this link can have a far-reaching effect on your team’s performance.

5. Provide additional training
Another crucial step to turnaround the performance of any team is to train members well so that they deliver what they is expected of them. Reintroduce and educate them about the change in strategy, realignment of goals and other key details. This will help them understand the knowledge and skills needed to deliver the goals assigned to them. Monitor team performance to see what is lacking and if training and support can help.

Photograph: Snowing/ 

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