Turnaround Team Management: Lessons from Successful Leaders
In any team-based competition, as in sports, there will likely be both overachievers and underperformers. While the stakes and format are generally much different than in a baseball or basketball game, teams operating in virtually any type of professional environment can often be evaluated in much the same fashion. That’s why, just as in athletics, many business owners are constantly trying to discover the secret to turnaround team management: the magic formula which will transform a sub-average squad into a successful one.
As you can imagine, turning on a dime is nearly impossible when it comes to teams of multiple individuals. It’s a process which requires honest self-assessment, planning, vision, and of course, plenty of dedicated effort. Just as a sports team needs a strong and knowledgeable coach at the helm to make the transition, a department requires a competent, focused leader who is capable of molding the unit so it can reach its full potential.
Honesty: Still the Best Policy
Revitalizing an underperforming staff or department isn’t easy. It demands changing a cultureïtruly shifting the collective thought process from pessimistic to optimistic. Before engaging in turnaround team management efforts, one must see through the eyes of those within the team. Many have likely become accustomed to mediocre results, even if they are not among the true roots of the problem. Some might specifically be acting as negative influences, serving to bring down the group through low energy, expectations and effort.
The first item of business is to recognize results for what they are. Until your team has an honest understanding of their position, they’ll be unlikely to change it. When you start by identifying the specific behaviors or habits which are hindering your team’s progress, you’ll probably start to get a better idea of who’s really on board for positive change and who’s more interested in maintaining the status quo. Keep in mind that even the least-engaged employees can still become valuable contributors; your first priority, though, is to make it clear that everyone must be part of the rebuilding process.
After the comparatively trying exercise of honest performance assessment, much of turnaround team management becomes about painting the picture of what you want to be. In other words, don’t dwell on missed opportunities; use them as learning experiences in the moment, but stay focused on the future and 1where your team needs to be. Repetition has a way of helping ideas take shape, so by constantly helping y1our team envision a successful future, you’ll be more likely to reach your intended destination.
Incentives can be a part of this process, although in many cases, the true incentive should be climbing back to a position of satisfactory performance. Help your staff to understand how their efforts impact the greater company, and how your collective work can help lift everyone to greater heights and give all workers a chance at greater success.
Define Winning Behaviors
Turnaround team management requires all members of the squad to buy in, and once you’ve convinced them that a brighter tomorrow is within reach, you must provide a blueprint to make it happen. Through metrics, analytics or whatever pertinent data you have at your disposal, set target goals for individual contributors. For example, generating 10% more leads or 5% more in sales over a specified period, or addressing a specific number of customer calls per day.
It’s also important to emphasize the intangiblesïthe elements of success you don’t always see on paper. Continuing the example above, it would mean your customer service reps should be focusing not just on call volume but also on performance elements such as phone manner and problem-solving skills to help create a better overall customer experience. Make the mission not just about accomplishing more, but about delivering polished, professional results.
One last point of discussion is about keeping your team on the right track once a turnaround has been achieved. Remember that teams and individuals each have their own tendencies, and a change in behavior or performance is not assured to be lasting or permanent. That’s why it’s vital to continually redefine success for your team, to continue moving the bar up just a bit in response to new high watermarks.
If your team reaches a stated goal of 90% customer service satisfaction for a specified period, then keep the energy up: offer incentives for hitting 95% next period, with a firm expectation of remaining at or above the 90% threshold. Help your team to understand that true success is not achieved in small bursts, but maintained over a long course through concerted effort and a genuine desire to achieve.
To learn more about turnaround team management and fostering cohesion in your workplace, make use of the many resources here at Mighty Recruiter.