Inheriting a new team is like getting a used car–sometimes they’re great, and sometimes there needs to be some work done. But what if a team has gotten so far off track that sweeping changes are needed to fix problems a previous manager avoided? These would be sweeping problems that were completed by multiple people throughout the team and not just the actions of a member or two. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Joseph Grenny explains how to combat a team that isn’t working hard enough.
The first step to helping your team is to determine if it is an actual problem or simply a conflict of preferences. It is good to consult HR or another trusted colleague about what constitutes company policy and acceptable behaviors. If it’s ultimately determined that there is a clear violation of policy, then it is important to notify HR or whoever is in charge of such violations. If that’s not the case though, then you should gather information before you present your problems to the team. Namely, you should look at if other peer managers or higher managers are enabling or even practicing the problematic behaviors themselves. One way or another, you need to strike alignment with the other managers, but in a way where you get the productive behaviors you need for your team to be successful. During such discussions, Grenny emphasizes that you should talk about shared goals rather than the morality of the situation; if people feel like you are judging them from a high horse, they will not want to help you.
Likewise, presenting the problem to your team should be done carefully to keep them from turning on you. Openly acknowledging the problem and also acknowledging that you are not infallible either are key steps in moving toward a resolution. One of the key tactics here is to say explicitly (but not overly rely on) that other leadership officials in your corner. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the people on your team also know that you are focusing on the future and are looking out for the team’s best interests.
When it comes to dealing with transgressions, Grenny says to be calm but decisive:
First, watch for compliance. If you see it, call it out and praise it. But expect that your mettle will be tested. It may be that people transgress out of inertia rather than intention, but motive doesn’t matter. The first time someone crosses a line, your audience is not that individual, it is the rest of the group. Human beings are social learners — we discern social norms mostly by watching what happens to others when they conform or violate them. If you’re not willing to apply a bit of heat, you’ll sow confusion about your new stated norm.
You can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2017/06/what-to-do-when-you-inherit-a-team-that-isnt-working-hard-enough