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HELP! My New Team Is a Train Wreck!

Pam Hager, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Instructional Consulting, shares another leadership learning insight with us.  Imagine a manager who’s new to the organization. He’s excited to jump into the role, but this new team has not had the coaching, supervision, or support that allowed them to capitalize on their talents and skills. Instead, a lack of oversight has caused them to devolve into an uncollaborative, unsupportive, and unproductive group. What is this manager to do?

The Backstory

This really happened! When the team’s new manager was interviewed for the position, he was on the verge of “laying down the law” by establishing rules and expectations. Fortunately, the manager and I bumped into each other at a local event. Over coffee, we talked about an approach that could have better potential for saving this team — and maybe even turn the manager into a “business hero.”

The Iron Fist Approach

It is so easy to fall into the trap of using techniques that promise to “whip the team into shape.” If you lead with a Q1 iron fist, they’re sure to follow, right? Not necessarily. They may bow down and do exactly what’s asked of them. But that may be all they do. Your people won’t innovate and push the boundaries because they don’t want to step out of line. Or they may rebel all together. You could be left without allies and without a team.

The Q4 Approach

New research points toward using a two-prong Q4 approach that will pay off more richly down the road. It may feel somewhat counter-intuitive, but as is always the case with Q4 behavior, this manager is going to have to use his influencing and collaborating skills. This kind of leadership allows the team to embrace behaviors that are respectful and productive.

The first part of the Q4 approach consists of a teambuilding session, which helps the team to access and analyze their current strengths and weaknesses, both individually and as a group. Unless team members can understand how they are currently operating, they cannot embrace a new path of productivity.

The second part of the Q4 approach enlists the ideas of the team to create its own “operating rules” for the team. In this way, the team owns the solution. In so doing, the team significantly increases their chances for developing a collaborative work group among themselves.

*PS: It’s worth noting that those team members not up to the challenge typically bail early on, thus avoiding the necessity for a manager to address them.

Thanks, Pam!

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