What am I going to do with this bunch of losers?

I have had four bosses this year and with a new round of restructures I have just inherited a bunch of losers! With a recruitment freeze in place, what am I supposed to do?

I get a sense that you are fatigued by the changes taking place in your company, which is understandable. Many people find themselves angry and struggling at times of change and uncertainty. You may find the three-step process below useful.

Look at yourself first

Before putting the focus on others we need to look at ourselves:

  • How you are dealing with the changes that you are facing? Take some time to review where you are at, how you feel (specifically about being moved to the role of managing this team). Talk to a trusted friend/advisor to help you navigate the way forward.
  • How you feel about this team will influence how you move forward and lead the team. What has made you label this team as ‘a bunch of losers’?

Working with the new team

There are many approaches you can take with your team: invade and conquer and accept the casualties; or you could take time to understand this team, assess the situation and engage them to find a productive way forward.

Step into their shoes; if you are feeling demotivated as a senior leader in the business, your team members are possibly feeling the same. It’s likely that you are privy to information to which they are not, which can lead them to feeling out of control. This will compound how they are feeling.

I’m guessing the people you inherited didn’t wake up one morning and announce that they had a burning desire to be part of a low-performing team. Most people desire to be part of a high-performing team, to contribute, to make a difference and to generate results. Progress is a powerful motivator, how can this team use this to motivate and engage themselves?

To unlock this team’s potential take some time to understand the team’s history, have an honest team discussion around this and be honest yourself. By being honest and vulnerable you will give permission for them to do the same, ultimately this will lead to a more productive outcome.

Questions/topics for a discussion could include:

  • What has the past 12 months looked like from their perspective? Take time to hear this without judgement or comment, it’s the past and they may just need to vent. Share your past 12 months.
  • What do they need to put the past behind them and move forward? Are they able to move forward? If not, what then? It would be useful for you to think about these questions with regards to yourself before the session with your team.

Once you have developed an understanding of the team’s past, assess who you have in your team. What skills, capabilities exist? Where are the gaps? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the team? Get together again to get clarity on:

  • How have the team been compliant to earn a negative reputation?
  • Where do they need to step up?
  • What is the purpose of this team?
  • What are the issues that the team care about?
  • What are the issues that the business cares about?
  • What is expected of this team by the business, by you as their leader, and by the team itself?
  • And a question for you: What shift is required for you to feel a part of this team?

What does the future hold?

Work together to ascertain your strategic priorities: how you will measure these as well as the accountabilities and key deliverables?

Find out what motivates this team? What motivates you? Bestselling author Daniel H. Pink talks about three things that motivate people: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Watch his ‘The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’ video for more on this.

Andrea Durrant, director of Columbard Management Consulting, sums it up: “Create a new vision for the team, one that enthuses and engages them. Set metrics and expectations and be clear on communicating these. Reinforce the expected standards and behaviours. If this doesn’t sufficiently address the issue, use performance management to further embed the high performance team culture and expected results.”

Pollyanna Lenkic is the founder of Perspectives Coaching, an Australian-based coaching and training company. In 1990, she co-founded a specialist IT recruitment consultancy in London, which grew to employ 18 people and turnover £11 million ($27 million). In this blog, Pollyanna answers questions from our readers on issues they are experiencing while leading or being part of a team. She offers insights on teams and team dynamics. For support and information on team days run by Perspectives Coaching see here.




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