Leading Teams Through Conflict

Leading Teams Through Conflict

Advice from Wendy Smith; Career Coach and author of How To Get On With The Boss and The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book – order on Amazon

Leading Teams Through Conflict – when a new group comes together all kinds of tensions may arise. Team members will begin to debate how to go forward. What are the priorities going to be?  Who is going to take which role in the team? What systems and processes will you put in place? At this point your leadership skills are important.

Differences of opinion and beliefs can lead to conflict. And team members may begin to jockey for position. Power struggles can break out, particularly if you have a number of strong personalities vying to lead. They may begin to challenge you as group leader. And cliques may form. 

Leading Teams Through Conflict – where to start

So what can you do? The team needs to be focused on its goals to avoid becoming distracted by relationship and emotional issues. Some compromises will need to be made. You will need to help them find the middle ground. 

A good way to start is to make sure that all are clear about the goal. Show them the real benefits of what you are trying to do. There needs to be lots of communication. The group has to understand the importance of the task, the processes needed and their roles. 

If all is going well, the group will move on to agree some “norms” for working together.

If you still have tensions

But, if you still have tensions, set down the ground rules for group behaviour.  Get the group to agree that they should treat each other with respect. You will need to keep a close eye on the debate. If it is about ideas, that is a good sign and they can be left to work it out if time allows. But, if the debate becomes personal then you will need to intervene. Don’t suppress conflict completely because the group will stagnate. They will not learn to work together very well if you suppress debate. This is where planning social events can help. These give people an opportunity to see each other in a more rounded way. 

If necessary, tighten up the goals and targets. Get the group to focus very sharply upon them. Make sure they understand the benefits which will be lost if people are not ready to compromise and reach agreement. If cliques have formed, try putting people to work with others outside their chosen subgroup. This is so that new relationships can be established. 

With your leadership, the team will come together and meet their goals. 

Other resources to help you

You will find lots of other tips on team leadership on my blog. Try this link.”

Leading Teams Through Conflict
A concise and practical little workbook. For all who have the courage to go out and learn the new skills necessary to find a job now.

If you are looking for a new job, you can find help for your job search in the “The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book: How to Win Jobs and Influence Recruiters.” Find this and my other books on my Amazon page at this link; http://ow.ly/BRSAL .

Remember working with a career coach can really help you be successful. Get in touch at the Facing a mid-career dilemmaemail address below – I offer a free half hour trial session by phone or Skype. Meanwhile I wish you every success in your job search.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

 

Leadership Styles – Life Cycle Leadership

Leadership Styles – Life Cycle Leadership

Leadership Styles – Life Cycle Leadership – different leadership styles are required across the life cycle of any group activity.

  1. Telling – at the start an activity, task or project, the individual, team or group usually know little about what is required of them and they can be confused and uncoordinated! Generally, they lack the specific skills required for this particular piece of work and they may not know each other. Lacking knowledge and confidence, they are anxious and unwilling to take responsibility for the task. The leader needs to go into “Telling” mode. This means being more directive; focusing on the task, promoting ownership by the individual team member and promoting their confidence. This Telling stage is characterized by one-way communication in which the leader defines the roles of the individual or group and provides the what, how, when, and where to do the task.
  2. Selling – as the group develops, the leader focuses on coaching to get them into the delivery stage! They agree how they will behave to complete the task! But in doing this there may be conflict and a leader may need a facilitative approach to lead them to resolution. They are still not able to take on responsibility; but, they are willing to work at the task. While the leader is still providing the direction and focusing on the task, he or she is now focusing as well on individuals using two-way communication – listening as well as giving instruction. The leader provides the coaching and support needed to help the individual or group buy into the process.
  3. Participating – as the individual or team becomes more confident and self managed the leader concentrates on leading the team overall and develops a delegating style! The team are experienced and able to do the task but may still lack the confidence to take on full responsibility. There is now shared decision-making about how the task will be accomplished and the leader generally provides far less instruction, concentrating instead on strengthening bonds and commitment within the group.
  4. Delegating – when the group is fully mature, the leader is still involved in decisions; but responsibility for how the task will be accomplished has been passed to the group. The leader stays involved to monitor progress. But the group are experienced at the task, and comfortable with their own ability to do it well. They are able and willing not only to do the task, but to take responsibility for its completion.

I have described the stages in terms of group behaviour but the same cycle is seen in the development of individuals when they take on a new role.

No one style is right for any leader all the time. Good leaders need the confidence to be flexible, and to adapt themselves according to the situation. The right leadership style will depend on the person or group being led.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach
Wendy Smith, Principal Coach, WiseWolf Life and Career Coaching

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link

         

 

Adjourning and Mourning: Tuckman Part 5

Managing Team Performance: Team Work 101

Form, Storm, Norm, Perform and Adjourn.

Tuckman Part 5 – Adjourning and Mourning

Adjourning and Mourning is the last part of the Tuckman model of how groups/teams develop.

Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. And, this includes a fourth and main stage when the group actually delivers the task. So, understanding the Tuckman model can help you lead, manage and facilitate teams and work groups more effectively. Some group leaders find the stages uncomfortable – they can be challenging to handle. Unfortunately, stages can seem slow and a waste of precious work time. But going through them means a more cohesive and efficient working group is formed

This short series of posts is about how you can lead your group through the Tuckman stages to achieve a good result. My post on  Stage 1, described how the group will be looking for some ground rules. In Stage 2, they set about testing what they think those ground rules might be. Stage 3 meant people began to experience a sense of group belonging. Stage 4 was about managing team performance.   Now, in Stage 4 Adjourning and Mourning,  the group breaks-up with its purpose, hopefully fulfilled.

Adjourning, and mourning

If the team leader has taken the advice set out for moving from Stage 4, the group will now have delivered the task.  The members can move on to new things carrying forward learning from this experience into their new work. But for that to be done successfully there is a change to be managed.

The break-up can be hard for members who have come to enjoy team routines or who have developed close working relationships with other team members.  People may feel very insecure and anxious about finding a new role.  It is important to celebrate and document what has been achieved and to make sure that all have a chance to share the learning from this group experience. Some group members may need particular support in moving forward. It can be a stressful period, particularly if the group is being broken up before its task is complete.

Leading the group through Stage 5 

What is the role of the leader? With a group in Stage 5, there is an opportunity to use a whole range of management skills.  You are dealing with conflicting emotions in yourself as well as in the team. These can include happiness and pride in a job complete, sadness at the dissolution and, even, anger if the group is being disbanded for less than noble reasons.

There may be some mundane but important tasks to complete. These may include archiving and record keeping for governance purposes. But team members may find it difficult to find the motivation to complete them,. Also encouraging honesty and sharing around lessons learned by the group during its lifetime, means you need to keep the members’ trust. A positive outcome means you lead them to acknowledge the task is complete, accepting the best and worst of the process. Then you help them let go and say goodbye

What could be problems in Stage 5 Adjourning and mourning?

Team members may well have feelings of dislocation and loss.  People deal with their feelings in different ways.  You may find some lose motivation completely and start to avoid the necessary work.  Others may argue over minor details and you find them reverting to storming – old arguments re-surface.  Others may deny or try to pretend that isn’t really the end and find excuses to prolong the process. Leading/managing means being vigilant, identifying what is happening and intervening with understanding and support.

This is the last in this series on the Tuckman Model – Forming, Norming, Storming, Performing and Adjourning.  But I’d welcome your thoughts and your questions. If you need advice on implementing the model, please get in touch.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Life Cycle Leadership

Life Cycle Leadership

Life Cycle Leadership! The team behaviour theories of  Tuckman and leadership theories of Hersey and Blanchard plus Adair can be brought together to into a simple model. This will show how different Leadership styles are required across the life cycle of an activity as illustrated in the diagram below.

The Cycle

Life cycle leadership
  • At the start an activity, task or project , the individual, team or group can be confused and uncoordinated! 
  • The leader needs to be more directive; focusing on the task at hand. They promote ownership by the individual or team member and encourage their confidence. 
  • As the team develops, the leader focuses on coaching. This to to get the group into agreeing how they will behave to complete the task! They sort out how they will work together
  • There may be conflict. If so the leader uses a facilitative approach to lead them to resolution. 
  • As the individual or team becomes more confident and self-managed, the leader concentrates on leading the team overall and develops a delegating style!
All this leaves most leaders with a challenge. ‘How do I develop the competence and confidence to use a wide range of leadership styles?’
Well, you could start by following our series of posts on the team development work of Dr Tuckman. Here is a link to the first post;  Forming the Team: Tuckman Part 1 

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Managing Team Performance: Tuckman Part 4

Managing Team Performance: Team Work 101

Form, Storm, Norm, Perform and Adjourn.

Tuckman Part 4 – Managing Team Performance

Managing team performance is an essential part of the Tuckman model of how groups/teams Managing Team Performancedevelop.

Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. And, this includes a fourth and main stage when the group actually delivers the task. So, understanding the Tuckman model can help you lead, manage and facilitate teams and work groups more effectively. Some group leaders find the stages uncomfortable – they can be challenging to handle. Unfortunately, stages can seem slow and a waste of precious work time. But going through them means a more cohesive and efficient working group is formed

This short series of posts is about how you can lead your group through the Tuckman stages to achieve a good result. My post on  Stage 1, described how the group will be looking for some ground rules. In Stage 2, they set about testing what they think those ground rules might be. Stage 3 meant people began to experience a sense of group belonging. Now, in Stage 4,  the leader should not need to be involved in the day-to-day work of the team. People are working effectively as a group.  If this stage is reached, the group are high-performing, motivated and achieve effective and satisfying results.

Stage 4 – Managing Team Performance

 

Let us be honest; not all groups are able to reach Stage 4.  Perhaps, they achieve the task but without ever truly excelling. And they will need pretty constant supervision and guidance from the team leader. But, if the team leader has taken the advice set out for moving on from Stage 3, there is good chance the group has reached Stage 4. Now, the group will be delivering the task with a high degree of openness, trust, confidence and autonomy.

The work itself is carried out to a high standard and the group take pride in their team results and superior performance. Problems are seen as opportunities and they are tackled constructively.

The group can make decisions and solve problems quickly. And, people may challenge each other; there are can be healthy differences of opinion. But these are resolved in a friendly manner. The group has the confidence to review and revise work processes if necessary. Now, new ways of doing things are considered and incorporated.

Leading the group through Stage 4 – Performing

What is the role of the leader? With a group in Stage 4, the leader does not need to be involved in decision-making, problem solving or the day-to-day work of the team. People now work effectively as a group. Therefore, the leader role is to monitor progress and celebrate achievements; this helps to maintain morale and the performance of the group. And, the leader is also the conduit for any strategic decisions which need to be made at a higher level, for the group to complete their work.

What if they don’t stay in Stage 4 – Performing?

There remains a possibility that the group could revert back to an earlier stage. For example, if someone leaves or new members join. Perhaps, one of the existing members has started to work independently or outside the rules/norms (formal or informal) subscribed to by the rest of the group. It is possible then for the team to revert back to an earlier stage. And, this will last until they have come to term with the change or the issues are resolved. If the team slips back, the leader should become more actively engaged again.  And, this could mean more close supervision for a while. Also encouraging them to have the confidence to go back to trying out new ideas and working independently, while remaining part of the group. So, they need you to be a cheerleader again – encouraging your group and recognising them for the good work they are doing.

Now we are moving towards completion of the task – the next post will be about Stage 5 Adjourning and saying goodbye!

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Managing Team Norming: Tuckman Part 3

Managing Team Norming: Team Work 101

Form, Storm, Norm, Perform and Adjourn.

Tuckman Part 3 – Managing Team Norming

Team norming is an essential part of the Tuckman model of how groups/teams team normingdevelop.

Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. And, this includes a third stage when the group agrees what norms are to apply later in their work. So, if you understand the model it can help you to lead, manage and facilitate teams and work groups more effectively.

This short series of posts is about how you can lead your group through the stages to achieve a good result. In my post on Stage 1, I described how the group will be looking for some ground rules. In Stage 2, they set about testing what they think those ground rules might be. Now, in Stage 3, people begin to experience a sense of group belonging. And, there is a feeling of relief that conflicts are being resolved. They agree the ground rules.

Stage 3 – Norming.

If the team leader has taken the advice set out for moving from Stage 2, the group will now be resolving any conflicts. This will mean people become much less defensive. Therefore they are willing to change their preconceived ideas or opinions on the basis of facts presented. They ask questions of one another. Leadership starts to be shared. Cliques break up in the light of new information and new relationships. And a sense of group belonging emerges.

People share feelings and exchange ideas. So, they explore possible actions for reaching the goals and creativity is high. And, they are on their way to being organised so that they can achieve their goals.

Trust builds and information flows well! As roles and responsibilities become clear, they are accepted. And big decisions are made by group agreement. While, smaller decisions may be delegated to individuals or small teams within group. This means commitment and unity are strong.

Leading the group through Stage 3 – Norming

What is the role of the leader?  Well, the leader facilitates, enables and makes sure that data keeps flowing between group members.  As well as that, the leader encourages the group by congratulating them when they listen to each other and work cooperatively. Now is the time to make sure they put in place detailed plans and systems, and standards, for completing the work. Encourage them to work together to achieve the task.

What if they get stuck in Stage 3 – Norming

Some groups stay in Stage 3 and complete the task with a degree of dependence on you as the team leader and others in the group. The main danger of Stage 3 is  that members may begin to fear the inevitable future break-up of the group, so they may resist change of any sort. This can mean they may not find novel and original solutions to problems. Encourage the group to try out new ideas, and approaches, and to develop the confidence to work independently while remaining part of the group. Be a cheerleader – encourage your group and recognise them for the good work they are doing.

Now, we are moving towards excellence  – the next post will be about Stage 4 Performing

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Managing Storming Teams: Tuckman Part 2

Managing Storming Teams: Team Work 101

Form, Storm, Norm, Perform and Adjourn.

Tuckman Part 2 – Managing Storming Teams

Managing storming teams is an essential part of the Tuckman model of how groups/teams develop.

Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. And, this includes a second stage when the group works out what norms are to apply later in their work. So, if you understand the model it can help you to lead, manage and facilitate teams and work groups more effectively.

This short series of posts is about how you can lead your group through the stages to achieve a good result. In my last post (at this link) I discussed Stage 1 Forming. In Stage 1 I described how the group look for some ground rules. Stage 2, as you will see, means they set about testing what they think those ground rules might be.

Managing Storming Teams

Some group leaders find managing storming team uncomfortable – it can be challenging to handle. Tuckman stages can seem slow and a waste of precious work time. But going through them means that a more cohesive and efficient working group is formed – a group that allows everyone to contribute their best!  A skilled manager can observe the stages happening and help the process along.  That means you get the best outcome for all in the least time.

Stage 2 – Storming.

If you have taken the advice set out for Stage 1, the group will now have some goals.  But, they are not yet organised so that they can achieve them. Though, by now they should have been together long enough to stop needing to be on their best behaviour.

They may begin to debate how they should go forward. For example, what are the priorities going to be and who is going to take which role in the team?  Do you know what systems and processes are going to be put in place?

Differences of opinion and beliefs lead to conflict and they may begin to jockey for position. Therefore, power struggles break out, particularly if you have a number of strong personalities vying to lead. And, they may begin to challenge you as group leader and cliques form.

Leading the group through Stage 2 – Storming

So what can you do? First, you can focus the team on its goals to avoid them becoming distracted by relationship and emotional issues.  Probably, some compromises need to be made and you need to help them find the middle ground. Now, start selling ideas and the benefits of what you are trying to do.  There needs to be lots of communication. Make sure they understand the importance of the task, the processes needed and their roles.  If all is going well, the group will move quickly through this stage to agree some “norms” for working together.

What if they get stuck in Stage 2 – Storming

In managing storming teams, you may need to set down the ground rules for group behaviour and get the group to agree that they should treat each other with respect.  So, keep a close eye on the debate – if it is about ideas, that is a good sign and they can be left to work it out if time allows. But, if the debate becomes personal, then you will need to intervene.  Don’t suppress conflict completely because the group will stagnate and not learn to work together very well. Social events can help individuals begin to see each other in a more rounded way.

If necessary, tighten up the goals and targets!  So, get the group to focus very sharply upon them and the benefits which will be lost if people are not prepared to compromise and reach agreement.  Possibly, cliques have formed. Therefore, put people to work with others outside their chosen subgroup so that new relationships can be established.

Now, we move towards the real work. And the next post will be about Stage 3 Norming. You can find the post on Stage 1 Forming the team here.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Forming the Team: Tuckman Part 1

Forming the Team: Team Work 101

Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning.

Tuckman Part 1 – Managing the Forming Stage

Forming the team is an essential part of the Tuckman model of how groups/teams Forming the teamdevelop. Most groups go through a formation process like that described by Dr Tuckman. If you understand the model it can help you to lead, manage and facilitate teams and work groups more effectively.

Some group leaders find the stages uncomfortable – they can be challenging to handle. Some stages seem slow and a waste of precious work time. But if you go through them, it means a more cohesive and efficient work-group is formed – a group that allows everyone to contribute their best!

A skilled manager can observe the stages happening and help the process along. That means you get the best outcome for all in the least time.

In a short series of posts, I’m going to discuss how you can lead your group through the stages to achieve a good result. You can find the second post in this series on Stage 2 Managing Storming Teams at this link.

Forming the team

When they first come together in a group, people are cautious.  Usually, they want to get to know each other and get on with the task.  But, they might be a bit anxious.  They are usually tentative and tend to check each other out. Generally, they are polite and somewhat reserved.

The group wants to work out how they should behave.  At this stage, they are not likely to challenge each other or you, as their leader. They want to understand properly why they are there – what is the task and what is this really about?  The group wants to know what they are being asked to do and how they are expected to do it.

No one feel very comfortable. Perhaps there any hidden agendas.

They are looking for the “ground rules”.

This stage can feel frustrating for the leader, because things can feel as if they are moving very slowly.

Lead the group through forming the team

So what can you do?  Well, you need to provide a safe environment in which the group can operate and you need to set some goals for them to achieve.

But let then have some time to get to know each other! Therefore, allow people an opportunity to share their hopes and their anxieties.  You might recognise now why trained facilitators put so much store by ice-breakers.

If you pace the group carefully, they will move through forming the team and not get stuck.  Encourage them all to contribute.

What if they get stuck in Stage 1 – Forming the Team

If they get stuck then you will need to become more directive.

  • Involve them in setting the goals
  • Let them air their reservations.
  • Get those ground rules out in the open air
  • Get people to agree the ground rules.
  • Support anyone who shows reticence so that their confidence develops.

Then stand by because you need to go through Stage 2 Storming before the real work begins. Stage 2 can be turbulent. Information on how to handle that stage will follow here shortly.

Other posts on the Tuckman model are to follow.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

How Many Leadership Styles Do You Need – Life Cycle Leadership

How Many Leadership Styles Do You Need – Life Cycle Leadership

This is a new version of a very popular post on this site.

I’ve written a lot about how teams behave and my approach has been based on Tuckman’s Team behaviour theory – you can find links to these articles at the bottom of this post. Tuckman’s approach and the leadership theories of Hershey-Blanchard and Adair can be brought together into one simple model.

This shows how different Leadership styles are required across the life cycle of any group activity.

  1. Telling – at the start an activity, task or project, the individual, team or group usually know little about what is required of them and they can be confused and uncoordinated! Generally, they lack the specific skills required for this particular piece of work and they may not know each other. Lacking knowledge and confidence, they are anxious and unwilling to take responsibility for the task. The leader needs to go into “Telling” mode. This means being more directive; focusing on the task, promoting ownership by the individual team member and promoting their confidence. This Telling stage is characterized by one-way communication in which the leader defines the roles of the individual or group and provides the what, how, when, and where to do the task.
  2. Selling – as the group develops, the leader focuses on coaching to get them into the delivery stage! They agree how they will behave to complete the task! But in doing this there may be conflict and a leader may need a facilitative approach to lead them to resolution. They are still not able to take on responsibility; but, they are willing to work at the task. While the leader is still providing the direction and focusing on the task, he or she is now focusing as well on individuals using two-way communication – listening as well as giving instruction. The leader provides the coaching and support needed to help the individual or group buy into the process.
  3. Participating – as the individual or team becomes more confident and self managed the leader concentrates on leading the team overall and develops a delegating style! The team are experienced and able to do the task but may still lack the confidence to take on full responsibility. There is now shared decision-making about how the task will be accomplished and the leader generally provides far less instruction, concentrating instead on strengthening bonds and commitment within the group.
  4. Delegating – when the group is fully mature, the leader is still involved in decisions; but responsibility for how the task will be accomplished has been passed to the group. The leader stays involved to monitor progress. But the group are experienced at the task, and comfortable with their own ability to do it well. They are able and willing not only to do the task, but to take responsibility for its completion.

I have described the stages in terms of group behaviour but the same cycle is seen in the development of individuals when they take on a new role.

No one style is right for any leader all the time. Good leaders need the confidence to be flexible, and to adapt themselves according to the situation. The right leadership style will depend on the person or group being led.

If you would like support in developing your own leadership style, get in touch – my email address is below.

Want to be a Confident Networker? Join my free teleseminar on 26th June 2012

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy’s earlier articles on how teams behave

  • Team Work; forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning with Dr Tuckman
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming,Performing and Adjourning. Part 1 – Managing the Forming Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 2 – Managing the Storming Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning Part 3 – Managing the Norming Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 4 – Managing the Performing Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 5 – Managing the Adjourning Stage

Managing people – dealing with a failing employee

Managing People – Dealing with a failing employee

So you have someone in your team that you think is letting you down. You can see that things are not working out as you expected. They’ve been around a while and things used to be fine. Now it is clear to you and other people that all is not well. What do you do?

First establish the facts. What is the evidence that performance really has changed and can you be certain that this team member is at fault?

Talk to the employee. Explain your concerns and any performance information you have gathered. Ask for their perspective.

Be fair, be open and be prepared to listen.

  • Do they accept that performance has fallen?
  • Are there factors inside or outside the organization that are affecting their performance?
  • Is there a health or family problem?
  • Do they understand the standard you expect?
  • Are they prepared to make a change?
  • Are there changes that you or others should and could reasonably make that will mean performance improves?

If the failure is down to the employee and there are no extenuating circumstances, within the bounds of employment law, you have choices to make. Much will depend on the reaction to your intervention.

If the employee accepts the failure and makes a commitment to improving their performance , apart from monitoring, there may be nothing further you need to do at this stage.

If performance does not improve, you will need to intervene again. You may need to coach the employee for a while and arrange some further training.

If that fails, you may need to impose closer supervision and move into disciplinary procedure and possible dismissal.

What matters most is that you intervene early – don’t let a bad situation just get worse.

  • Act early
  • Act always in good faith
  • Be willing to be open minded.
  • Collect evidence and be objective
  • Be clear about the standard you expect
  • Check that the employee understands your expectations
  • Reward progress with praise.
  • Keep records through-out
  • If you do have to dismiss, make sure it  comes as no surprise

But it is in your and their interests to give them a fair opportunity to make an improvement. Bringing an employee back on track is good for them, it is good for you and it is certainly good for the organization in terms of morale and use of resources, provided your intervention is in proportion.

Dealing with failing employees is never easy and the more prepared you are the better.  If you are a manager struggling with failing employees, a management training course or advice from a coach or mentor can help you learn the skills you need to really excel in the workplace and deal with all kinds of challenging situations.

If you need to the support of a coach in dealing with a failing employee, please get in touch

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach. She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason @wisewolfcoaching.com

Other useful articles

  • Team Work; forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning with Dr Tuckman
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming,Performing and Adjourning. Part 1 – Managing the Forming Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 2 – Managing the Storming Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning Part 3 – Managing the Norming Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 4 – Managing the Performing Stage
  • Team Work; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. Part 5 – Managing the Adjourning Stage