As a manager, having a unproductive team SUCKS. I’ve inherited shocking teams and it’s the worst feeling.
How frustrating is it when you have a big workload, you’re already stressed, and then your team are doing things like:
Taking all day to do a simple task; Gliding in late then taking hours to settle at their desks; Constantly on social media and shopping sites 😤
How do we end up at these low points with our teams? How can we avoid them? Often we don’t have control over who ends up in our team.
So let’s forget hiring and firing and focus on what we can change TODAY.
I promise, if you try these in your team you’ll see a difference within weeks! (if not days)
1-on-1 time for each team member
My first tip to kickstart your team is to make some 1-on-1 time for all your direct reports.
Whether that’s grabbing a coffee, a scheduled meeting, or just a quick pow-wow. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?
Don’t ask them for an update on their work, start by just getting them talking.
If this is difficult; try asking them something that will get them talking
“How could I help you be more successful?”
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“You’re too busy for this” I hear you say? What if you start by giving just 10 minutes to each of your team members? That’ll probably be 1 or 2 hours a week/fortnight/month…
Surely your unproductive team are worth even that! 🤣
Have a little peak at some of the research behind 1-on-1s here. There’s nothing stopping you starting 1-on-1s right now!
Your team will feel heard, and have a greater sense of psychological safety. They’ll be in a place to be coached into the outcomes you or the company are striving for!
From my experience whenever I’ve put a greater focus on meeting and talking to my team, I’ve felt the vibe of the team significantly improve. People are less grumpy and more engaging with each other too. 🏎
Psst - Crewmojo helps you keep track of and have great 1-on-1 conversations with your team
Near term objectives
Are you using annual KPI’s to manage what’s expected of your employees?
How do Google and other high performing companies set their teams goals? once a YEAR??? ...😂 … they don’t.
I won’t list all the research about why annual KPI’s are flawed. You can read more about that on our blog.
Annual goals are usually obsolete by the time they are reviewed.
This forces your team to work on things that are no longer in the best interest of the company. The outcome is especially bad if they are tied to remuneration.
That is so extremely demotivating for them that it’s not even funny. A demotivated team = an unproductive team.
Here’s how to turn it around.
Do you have the power to change how your team does their goals? There’s nothing stopping you running this alongside those terribly bad annual KPIs.
- Start by coming up with 3 company or team objectives for the quarter.
- Communicate them to your team members and ask THEM to come up with 3 objectives are aligned with your team or company ones. (ok you might have to help them a bit)
- At the end of the quarter review and record the results then... rinse-and-repeat!
This is a very high level summary of OKRs (objectives and key-results) which were pioneered by Intel and Google.
By empowering employees to come up with their own objectives and by doing this quarterly, you’re setting your team up with expectations that stay relevant.
You’ll be left with humans striving for goals they’ve been empowered to chase.
P.S. Crewmojo’s platform makes it’s super easy to roll out and track objectives just like this.
A Great Feedback Culture
I’ve left this to last because it’s probably the harder one to get going. But if you’ve made it this far your team must be REALLY lazy 😆
The more feedback that your team gets throughout the year - the better the chance they’ll have to meet your expectations.
Do your team only get feedback once a year at their annual review / appraisal? Maybe you do 360 reviews? That’s a bit better, but if you really want to rev your team’s engine you’ve got to get them giving feedback to each other… frequently.
This isn’t easy. It involves building a feedback culture in the team where people feel safe to give and receive feedback.
1-on-1s and quarterly objectives will already help you to increase the level of feedback your team is getting. The next step is to sow-the-seeds to cultivate your feedback culture.
Start with praise (based on effort). Do this privately e.g. not in team meetings. Drop some comments in 1-on-1s okr send them a quick email and call out the good behaviours as soon as you see them.
Say thank you for work / you’ve received from others ‘Thanks so much for the help covering the incoming emails while I was distracted on the conference.’
If they’re doing a good job - tell them! ‘Those changes you made on the API to reduce load were pure genius! Keep up the good work.’
Call out good behaviours ‘I saw your reply to the customer about the issue they were facing. I just wanted to say that your diligence was awesome, making sure that all the details were covered and you clearly let them know we’ve got their success as our priority. Love it!’
By building up a good feedback culture you’re making huge headway to develop great psychological safety within your team. Google’s research found that was THE biggest indicator
of a high performance team.
Hey - Crewmojo’s app will help you build this type of feedback culture
High-performing teams don’t have to have the best people - or beer and ping-pong.
They just need the right environment to give them their mojo! (Project Aristotle by Google proved this).
This environment is in your control!!!
By trying these easy tips today with your unproductive team, you’ll be fostering the type of environment where they’re going to be the best team you ever had.
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