Great leaders are often faced with managing underperforming teams. All great leaders look at the situation as a challenge, and tackle it head on. As a manager, you should approach underperforming staff and teams in the same way.

An underperforming team or employee, can sap the life out of a business. Often times these members seem disengaged and unfocused in their duties. As a leader and manager, it is your job to unravel the issue and get that team or employee back on track. Here are some things to consider in your approach to managing these underperforming people:

  • Whether your problem is an underperforming employee or a whole team, your approach is still the same. The first thing you need to do is get to know them all! They were originally hired for a certain skill set or talent, and somehow this got lost. Understand what makes them tick and where they lost their passion. Perhaps it is as simple as a misunderstanding that can be cleared up, or a situation in their personal life that is spilling into work. Either way, when you understand them, you can better assess how to engage them in work.
  • It is important that your team and employees understand the company’s goals. Many times employees will be disengaged, because they do not understand how their day-to-day activities contribute to the company’s overall goals. Explain how they add value to the company and how their peers, customers, and top management rely on them. This will have an extreme impact on their behavior going forward.
  • Recognize when your team is in need of additional training or education. Often times, new procedures are implemented or new techniques have been introduced that your team simply does not fully understand. Observe your team over several days to determine if this is the cause of their underperformance. It may be beneficial to have short training sessions, as often this helps to reignite the passion.
  • The most important thing you can do is provide feedback to every member of your team. Spend one-on-one time with each and every one of your team members. This goes hand-and-hand with getting to know them. This will allow a safe place to be honest and talk about the issues. Together you can make plans on how to fix any problems. If your team member does not know there is an issue, they cannot work on fixing it.

While most times these techniques will work and soon underperforming members will be performing as they did before, sometimes there is no coming back for a member. As the leader, you must learn to recognize this and know when it is the right time to cut ties. While letting someone go is not ideal, it may be necessary to save the rest of the team and the project.

Leading a team of underperformers can be challenging, even for the best leaders. Embrace the opportunity, follow some of the tips above, and see how you can make a difference.

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