You have taken over a new team as manager. You notice that there are several behavioral issues in the team, like a few of the members not being punctual,  a few others not taking responsibility, and generally team not collaborating with each other etc.  This is affecting the project work  and is impacting the outcomes of the project. What changes would you try to bring to the culture in the team and how would you go about doing that?


 

Solution

Here are some tips for addressing such situations:

HAVING

First of all as a leader of the team you should have the conviction that you need to influence the team to improve it’s performance and bring the needed changes.

BEING

Typically such behavior changes, culture changes are leadership-led; there is certain amount of role-modeling happens: consciously or subconsciously, people look up to leaders and imitate the behaviors.

So, there is a significant onus on the leaders to lead by example for instilling the right behavior & culture. Hence the change begins with self. BE the way you want the team to BE.

DOING

Command-control approach of telling people what to do & what not to do, how to & how not to behave and trying to discipline the team seldom works. Imagine how you would respond if your boss tries to change your behavior by force. Instead use a facilitative approach – which means asking questions and listening more than telling. Try the following steps:

– Highlight the positive aspects of the team and appreciate the positive behaviors of the team members recognizing the individuals during team meetings.

– Bring up your observations and ask the team what can be done on negative behaviors, without referring to any particular individual. Sensitize the team on the expectations. If the team members who were not behaving/performing in an expected way are sensitive, but were not aware of the expectations, will correct themselves with these steps. If that does not work, try the next steps as below.

– Engage 1:1 with the individuals who are dysfunctional. Taking a coaching approach – ask, listen, understand, suspend judgment.

– If it’s a lack of awareness issues, sensitize the person and set expectations.

– If the person has genuine concern/challenge, help the person to deal with it; Help the person to find alternatives, solutions by leading through asking questions.

– If it’s a discipline issue, give feedback through asking questions.

– If it’s a motivation issue, see what the driving factors are and what can be done.

– If the above steps won’ work, give a direct warning to the person – use organization mechanisms like PIP (performance improvement program), etc.

– If none of the above approaches yield the results, help the person to transition out of the team. Team should not get impacted by a few negative influencers.

Typically in any change management, there will be 10% promoters (who proactively support the change), 10% detractors (who oppose/resist the change) and 80% fence sitters. Focus more on the promoters and fence sitters to create critical mass towards the positive change through positive reinforcements. Over a period many detractors too will change. If detractors become dysfunctional, deal with them swiftly & sternly so that the team does not get impacted negatively.