As a business consultant, I have encountered numerous managers who have a team that just aren’t operating at their peak efficiency. The problem is, many of them don’t even know that their team is underperforming. They feel like they are achieving a lot but when I help them to really open their eyes, they realise they are not achieving nearly as much as they should be – or growing as fast as they could be.
There are three indicators that I always look out for when determining if a manager has a broken team. As a manager, you should always be on the lookout for them because the first step towards a productive team is becoming aware that your team is broken. Real progress comes from awareness, so watch out for these three warning signs:
1. Constant firefighting in your business
This one you might find difficult to identify at first. You can often feel like you are doing a really good job as a manager when you’re holding the team together, catching mistakes and fixing them swiftly. You can feel like a superman/superwoman when you’re out there, fixing the problems in your business. The question is, are you constantly doing this? Are the problems in your business something that crops up on a day-to-day basis?
If so, then your team isn’t doing what they’re meant to be. Don’t get me wrong – everyone makes mistakes and problems do happen in even the best businesses I have consulted. There will always be fires to fight. But the problems that you’re solving should be exceptions, not the rule.
If solving problems in your business is a part of your regular day, then you need to reconsider how your team is structured and how they are working.
2. Micromanagement becoming necessary
Do you find that if you’re not there, deadlines seem to slip? Do you constantly have to create timelines and task lists for your team members in order for them to get things done?
Then you’re micromanaging and that’s not going to help your business move forward.
If you feel that you can’t trust your team to deliver what they’re meant to deliver on time, most of the time, then there’s an issue with how your team is being managed.
3. Every discussion becomes aggressive or sensitive quickly
You need to be able to communicate with your team members. You need to be able to realign their path and assign tasks without fuss and drama. If sensitivity quickly becomes a big issue whenever you try and talk to your team, your competition is going to quickly take over.
The key here is whether there’s trust and understanding – if they do not understand you and you do not understand them, then someone will usually take offence and discussions become difficult. You start to ask yourself, “What’s the point in even bringing it up? I might as well just do it myself.” As soon as you think those words, then you know you have an issue with communication in your team and you may need to reconsider your management style.
If you’re experiencing any of these signs, then your team simply isn’t working the way it should be. The end result is that you’re lifting up the team and, realistically, you were probably better off doing things by yourself. You’re not getting the leverage from your team that you should be getting if you want to see your company grow and expand.
In the end, your team is your reflection. So if you do figure out that your team appears to be broken, consider that your team is as good as your leadership/management style. Take ownership of this situation and sit down to think it through. Ask yourself how can YOU change to make your team better.
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