If your team are lacking motivation, aren’t as productive as usual or are dissatisfied and at odds with each other, then it’s time for a tune-up. But how do you get your underachieving team to give you their best?
Know your team
Take the time to get to know each member of your team. Plan a few team building activities and make notes of each person’s strengths and weaknesses. Factor in time to sit down with them and identify (together) areas where skill development could help both individuals move forward and benefit the team.
Allocate suitable roles within the team they can perform to a high standard. Allow them to get comfortable in that specific role and build in confidence before assigning additional responsibilities.
Set high standards
Set a high bar. If you accept poor or mediocre performance from your team, that’s exactly what you will get and you’ll end up with a bunch of lowly underachievers.
Leaders and managers need to push for excellence. Demand the most from your team and they’ll make every effort to deliver. Tolerate a mediocre effort and you send a message that your standards are easy to meet.
By transforming average workers into high-performance workers, you’ll impress your bosses and earn a reputation as a results-oriented and hard-changing leader. Your team will also feel better about themselves once they see they’re part of an elite team. The desire to excel will feed on itself and no one within your team will no longer settle for second-rate work.
Accept sub-standard performance from others, and it will show. Results will start to slip and you’ll be playing catch-up, firefighting your way to change.
In professional sports teams, there are many examples of players who struggle to find form whilst at their last team only to bounce back when they’re transferred to another. The difference is they’re suddenly surrounded by a coach and team mates who expect or rather demand superior performance which causes them to dig deep and produce better results.
Monitor and coach poor performance
When you spot performance slipping, get involved quick. Some team leaders may mistakenly spend most of their time with their top performers and avoid everyone else. Ignoring any below-average workers allows them to burrow into your team. They’ll become increasingly difficult to dislodge if you leave them alone. Any underperforming members may also have a negative impact on your team morale, address the issue as quickly as possible, understand why they are performing to the standard and move on.
Incremental goal setting
Chip away at unacceptable performances by setting incremental goals, motivate your team and cheer on their efforts to improve. Reinforce what they do right by praising them. If they lapse into mediocrity, intervene and remind them of your high expectations.
Some workers will resist your high standards. The more you demand excellence, the more they’ll protest. Don’t dignify their complaining by nodding or looking sympathetic. Instead, ignore them and review how they perform – if they fail to perform to your high standards then you may want to get rid of them. This teaches workers that in order to earn your full attention, they must cut their moaning and commit to improving their performance.
To propel poor and mediocre workers to high-performers:
Play on their strengths: Emphasise what workers do well. Talk up their assets and make them realise how much more they can contribute by harnessing their full potential.
Challenge them to improve through incremental goals: Rome wasn’t built overnight. Set short-term goals that require slightly more effort and effectiveness. With each incremental gain, you lift workers to a higher level.
Provide mentors: Get them to work with your most driven, talented team members. Weak employees often respond well when they’re influenced by more experienced, successful and supportive co-workers.
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