Why Your Teams Aren’t Doing What You Want

Do you ever get your team together for an update, and discover that far from making progress, they’ve actually gone off in a whole different direction to what you thought you had agreed?

unhappy-teamOr maybe they’ve not made any progress at all, and seem to have prioritized all the wrong things?

This is the reality of managing people in the workplace, and is made worse by information overload, new business models and impossible rates of change.

How do we get around this?

How do we make sure that all our people are moving in the right direction, in the same direction, and not only meeting, but exceeding expectations?

This sounds like an impossible ask, but the solution may be simpler than we think.

If you’re used to being clear and assertive, and making sure your team knows what to do, then there’s no reason to change that. Sometimes, there’s no time to beat around the bush, because you’re under pressure too and just need to get things done.

This approach, however, may be counterproductive, and for one simple reason: no-one likes being told what to do – even if that’s what they’re paid for.

Employees, especially good ones, like to be presented with the facts, and allowed to come to their own conclusions.

The pressures of today’s corporate environment, with its hierarchy and politics, don’t always leave much room for that, but when we rush to action, it can sometimes get the opposite of what we intended.

Good People Rarely Act Without a Why

When you have a big remit to pass on to your team – a new project for example – you need to get them excited about it first. Tell them why it’s important, and the benefits it will bring to all of you, as individuals, as a team, and to the company.

Good people rarely act without a why, and the bigger you can make it, the more likely they are to go the extra mile.

And if you want them to really act, then you need to inspire them with a vision – one that’s exciting enough to make them put their individual agendas aside.

The 70-30 Rule Creates Ownership

Good people also want to contribute their ideas, and to have a say in the work they are involved in. Even if your project is commendable, when you present it in its entirety, your team may see it as a fait accompli and reject it, whilst nodding in silent approval.

By all means give them your vision, and an initial concept, but then ask them to go away and put the finishing touches to it themselves. Stick to the 70-30 rule if you want your team to take ownership, where you work up no more than 70% of the idea yourself, and leave the remaining 30% to them.

Of course this requires trust, but what they come up with might surprise you!

Good Feedback Grows Leaders

When you send your people off to work on something, you have to expect them to make mistakes sometimes, or not to give you what you want.

But when this happens, how do you react?

In business, it’s often quicker and easier to tell our team what’s wrong with what they’ve done rather than what’s right with it. After all, we are paid to solve problems, and our brains are hardwired to seek defects and errors.

Making what’s wrong with something the first thing you feed back to your team, however, can be demotivating.  You can still get your point across, starting with what is right about the work, before going on to discuss what would make it even better, or what they need to change.

Good feedback, starting with the positive stuff first, will challenge your teams to do more and better.

Three Good Habits Make a World of Difference

In a nutshell, give your team a why, let them contribute their ideas, and always give them positive feedback first.

These are simple but powerful habits and can make a world of difference.

When you incorporate them regularly into your team meetings, you’ll find performance improves, as does engagement.

In fact, adopting these three habits creates more than engagement, it creates confidence.

Engagement guarantees commitment, and I’m sure your team has this in spades.

Confidence, however, is more elusive. It moves people from engagement to action and unlocks untapped potential.

When you unlock potential in your team that you never knew existed, you have not just a team, but a high performing one.

They’ll not only do what you want but become the change you want to see.

So, the only question remaining is what’s on your horizon?



Karen Hewitt

Karen Hewitt

Karen J. Hewitt is an Engagement and Culture Change specialist who is fluent in five languages and the author of Employee Confidence – the New Rules of Engagement, finalist in the Leadership category of the Business Book Awards 2019.

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