I talk with team leaders every week where the team is struggling and trying to figure out how to succeed again. I understand. I’ve been the leader of teams in situations like that many times. Every team experiences times of decline. What you do next almost always determines how long it lasts and how well you recover.
First, I should say that every situation is unique and requires individual attention. Don’t use a script for your team. Also, don’t be afraid to bring in outside help. It could be anyone from a paid consultant to trading a friend a favor who leads another team. Everyone can use a fresh perspective at times. It takes humble and wise leaders to welcome input from outsiders.
With those disclaimers in mind, I can offer a few thoughts to shape your current paradigm of thought.
What do you do when your team is struggling? Here are seven suggestions:
1. Admit it.
Pretending there isn’t a problem will only make things worse and delay making things better. Most likely everyone on the team and in the organization knows there is a problem. Again, this is where the leader must be humble enough and wise enough to recognize and admit the problem. (I realize the next question is, “What do I do when the leader isn’t this wise or humble?”)
2. Recast vision.
People need reminding why they are doing what they are doing. You should have a vision big enough to fuel people’s energy toward achieving it. If you don’t have one, spend time there first. If you already do —and most teams do — they may have forgotten it, but it exists somewhere. Now is the time to tell it. Frequently. (For my pastor friends, you have a vision given to you — we know it, we just sometimes get distracted by other things. Tradition. Programs. Systems. Stuff.)
Now is also the time to ask hard questions, like: What is going wrong? Who is not working on the team? Where have we lost our way? Where are we stuck? How did we lose our way? What are we missing? This is a great place to bring in some outside perspective if needed. The less you try to protect personal agendas here, the greater chance you’ll have of recovery.