Solving Common Team Performance Issues

Eric Mochnacz
April 1, 2019
Teamwork makes the dream work.  It’s cliché, but we all want to head into the office every day knowing we can work effectively with our teams to meet company goals.  Despite best efforts and intentions, things happen that impact team performance. As a manager, you find yourself the person responsible for solving these performance issues and getting the team back on track.  We’ll explore some of the more common performance issues and provide tips on how to address them.

“My team doesn’t communicate with each other, and on the rare occasion they do, they don’t communicate well.”

This is probably the most common issue among teams and is possibly the root of every problem your team faces.  Considering the many different personalities and communication styles that can exist in a team, it can be difficult creating an environment where each person’s different style is valued and accommodated.  It’s possible one teammate values in person communication over E-mail correspondence. Someone may prefer giving the background and context of a decision rather than just responding with the decision. As the manager, there’s tremendous value in taking time with the team to observe the way they communicate.  You may see it more organically in a team meeting or you can create a communication activity for the team that allows you to be more intentional in your observation. Also, consider implementing a DISC assessment, or something similar, for your team. Run a debrief with a trained facilitator afterwards to best identify the best way to communicate moving forward.

“Everyone keeps telling me that one person is negatively impacting team performance and their ability to get the job done.”

As the manager, this can be challenging because you may agree with your team and you see the impact the one employee is having on performance.  There may even be a tendency to commiserate with the complaining employees to show support. However, your role is to remain impartial and listen, recognizing you have a responsibility to support and develop all members of the team; even the one not meeting expectations.  If you have observed the performance issues, commit to assisting that employee be successful. Be direct with the team member about their performance and where they are not meeting goals. Develop goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) with the employee so you can accurately assess their performance.  Make sure these are created based on behaviors and performance issues you’ve observed, not on the rumblings of the other team members. Although you can’t report on another employee’s performance to their peers, they will hopefully observe improvement after you’ve devoted time to developing the struggling team member.  

“My team isn’t engaged.”

This happens for a number of reasons.  If the team doesn’t see how their work influences the company’s bigger picture, they may feel like they are going through the motions rather than contributing to the company’s success.  Having knowledge of and providing them data on how their hard work is impacting the company is an effective way to get them re-engaged in their work. Devote time to considering if the team’s input is used in developing work processes and procedures that directly impact their work product.  Oftentimes, decisions may be made from upper management that don’t consider the individuals who are actually doing the work. As a manager, you may not be able to guarantee complete transparency, but soliciting feedback from the team for more effective work practices can also help them feel more connected to the organization.   Change can happen quickly in an organization, sometimes so fast that your team members can barely keep up.  If they feel things are moving at a fast pace without considering how it impacts them, they may disengage. There’s often a lot of confusion when change happens, and it can be difficult to see one’s role in an organization during a time of transition. Creating a step-by-step communication plan for your organization when it is undergoing change is a strategic way to keep team members engaged and up to date about organizational change. Ultimately, the team members want to feel valued and want to see their impact in the organization.  Take steps as the manager to reinforce their role and support their efforts.  

“My team says they don’t feel supported.”

This one can be hard to take, especially feel if you consider yourself to be a supportive manager.  But, you know you’ve created a good team when they feel comfortable enough to share with you they don’t feel supported.  Rather than reacting immediately and listing all the ways you support them, commit to asking for observable examples and what they need from you to feel supported.  Devote some time to self-reflection before developing an action plan on how to address your employees’ needs. Identify what is in your control and what is not. A manager cannot be responsible for fixing all perceived problems in an organization but can be responsible for altering their own style to better support the team.  Once you’ve committed to an improvement plan, utilize weekly check-ins or team meetings to verify your progress towards those goals. Also inform your manager of these changes so they can keep you accountable. Ultimately, when a manager uses feedback from their team to improve, the team will see that as a sign of support.  

Written by: Eric Mochnacz

Eric is a Consultant with Red Clover and specializes in Learning and Development, Recruiting and Onboarding and Performance Management. Meet Eric…  

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