Maybe your collaborators do (less than) the strict minimum, and you get nervous.
Maybe some team members lack competence, and you are frustrated.
Maybe one of your colleagues has a negative impact on the others, and you are angry.
Maybe you hired a complete misfit, and you wonder how this could happen.
If you’re in one of the situations above, chances are high you have already spent quite some time thinking about the situation. Here’s a way, inspired by Eckhart Tolle, to make the best out of the situation and bring your team to the highest possible level.
1. Do something to change the situation
Start by clarifying expectations. It’s easy for others not to act as you’d like when expectations are not clear. Either because it’s convenient for them to choose the ‘easy route’. Or because it’s not clear to them what’s important to you. Clarity brings power. You can read more about it in our post ‘When it’s difficult to get others act as you’d like’.
In addition to clarifying expectations, it’s useful to consider providing training or mentoring. Training helps people to acquire the necessary skills. Mentoring or coaching helps to develop the right mindset and behaviors.
Usually, when your expectations have been consistently clear, and when the necessary training and coaching has been provided, in a positive atmosphere, there is quite some improvement. Sometimes there is no progress though, notwithstanding all efforts made. If so, you might consider step 2 or step 3.
2. Change the composition of the team
If efficiency and effectiveness are not progressing, you are probably not the only one dissatisfied with the situation. Your team member is probably not very happy either. It’s time to reflect who should stay in the team, and who shouldn’t.
You could help seek new opportunities in another department for the struggling team member. A department that could benefit from his or her services. Unfortunately that is not always possible.
A second possibility would be to encourage seeking new opportunities in another company. It requires guts to take this route. But at times it’s the only good option for all parties.
A reaction might be ‘but my ENTIRE team is below standard! You cannot ask me to fire my ENTIRE team!’. If your entire team is so flawed, and you did everything you could do change the situation (see above), perhaps it’s time to consider switching department or company yourself…
In some cases – it won’t be possible to change the composition of the team. Your boss might not agree, HR might explain it’s impossible … If so, we suggest to go to step 3.
3. Accept the situation
Assuming you have tried everything you could to change the situation, and assuming that it’s not desirable or not possible to change the team’s composition, the one and only thing to do is accept the situation.
Stop ruminating, stop changing something that cannot be changed, stop blaming all those that make you feel stuck. Just accept what is. Rumination and despair are keeping you away from the job you have to do. Focus on the mission you have to accomplish, focus on the people that can help you realize your objectives, and get in a positive spiral again.
Two elements to keep in mind: (1) Leverage the relative strengths of the person you have trouble with. Put them on the tasks where they have the highest value. Seek to leverage them, how to turn them into some kind of asset for the team. (2) Make sure the underperformer is not negatively contaminating others. Put clear boundaries on what can and cannot be done.
Accepting an undesired situation doesn’t feel comfortable. But if steps 1 and 2 don’t work, it’s probably the only way to realize your ambitions. Make realizing your ambitions the focus!
Go and practice the approach above. In our experience, the impact is tremendous.