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Entries from September 2015

Stuck in a Rut?

24th September 2015
Stuck TeamsAre you and your team stuck in a rut?
As a team leader you may be blind to the fact that you a
sliding down a slippery path that will adversely impact your results because
your team is ‘stuck’ in some way.
Because you are in amongst ‘the soup’ – the daily activities
and energy of your team and work life you may not easily spot some of the
clues, so here are some tips on what to look out for.
Hopefully they will help you spot the ‘rot’ and take action
before it’s too late.
Lack of Energy
You may notice a lack of enthusiasm or lethargy a in the
team or in certain individuals; or hear phrases like:
  • ‘There’s nothing anyone can do… ‘
  • ‘What a waste of time…’
  • ‘Is it really worth it’


Energy is contagious. If you allow this to continue it will
very soon be the overriding energy and mood of the team and not the most
productive energy to deliver results!!
Cynicism and mistrust may be harder to spot. It could be you
that isn’t trusted and therefore not so visible.
Look at how team meetings are working. Is the agenda is more
important than the outcome?  Is it
all show and tell for the boss? Are there unconstructive and one-sided
discussions without candour – nobody wants to talk about what is really going
Another tell tale sign could be an apathy in the way
challenges or obstacles are viewed in that they are owned by one individual
rather than a team approach:
‘I knew this teamwork stuff was a load of @*@*’
You can pick this up by the comments people make either in
meetings or in corridor chats and can come across as a lack of personal
responsibility… it’s always someone else’s fault or, down to someone else to
take action.
Phrases or behaviour you may hear or see are:
  •  ‘We have no
    clue as to what this is about…’
  • Meetings in which interpersonal attacks made behind peoples
    backs and to outsiders – ‘x has never pulled his own weight and never will’
  • A sense of helplessness and lots of finger pointing at top
    management and/or the rest of the organisation – ‘if this effort is so important
    why don’t they give us more resources.’
  • ‘We can’t make this happen on our own and no-one else is


Possible solutions to
becoming unstuck
It’s never too late to do something about a ‘stuck team’,
although the longer you leave it the more challenging it may be to reverse the
Here are some things you can do:
  1. Revisit the basics. Is each team
    member clear about the purpose, vision, goals and ground rules for the team?
  2. If there is a lot to be achieved
    over a long time frame go for small wins – one step at a time. Help everyone
    recognise how far they have come rather than how much is left to do!
  3. Inject new information relevant
    to the work they are doing e.g. feedback from other teams on the work they are
    doing, benchmarks to show how much progress has been made or, to inspire a new
    level of thinking and action case studies and best practices.
  4. Change the leadership or team
    membership. Sometimes you have to change the people in the team to create the
    energy you need to move forward.
  5. Invest time and energy yourself
    and hire a facilitator/coach who can help with different approaches. This way
    you can be part of the team and solution. It can be hard as a leader to try and
    facilitate the team and be part of it.


What ideas do you have?
Have you ever been in a stuck/underperforming team?
What worked for you?
I’d love to hear about your ideas and experiences, simply
leave a message below.
“Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally
Vincent Lombardi


3 areas to focus when leading teams

3rd September 2015
Leading TeamsAs a leader you have to take people with you to deliver your
vision, goals and objectives.
The individuals who will help you achieve this the most is
your team. Yet how much training or development have you had to lead a team?
True teams are dynamic, constantly evolving and adapting to
their environment.  Developing a
team to this level takes time and attention, and the truth is no one teaches us how to build
and develop teams. We’re magically supposed to know what to do when you are
given a team.
I recently delivered a module of a leadership programme on leading teams
and I shared one of the first models of team leadership I came across and found
really useful.
It’s simple – which is why I like it, although like all things simple
they aren’t always easy to apply. However I think this is an exception!
The model I’m referring to is John Adair’s Action Centred Leadership
There are 3 elements for this model and according to Adair each require
attention in any leadership situation:
The degree to which they need attention will depend on what’s going on in
each area along side any external influences. It is the role of the leader to
balance the needs of all three areas.
This may be the completion of something practical and tangible or
something less tangible.
  • What is the task in hand?
  • What is the goal or outcome you are trying to achieve?
  • What is your strategy to accomplish this?
  • Is everyone in the team clear about this?

The task can only be achieved if all the team are working together with
the same aim in mind. Therefore, the team as an entity needs to be understood
in it’s own right.
  • What are the working relationships like in the team?
  • How are people relating to each other?
  • Are they playing to each other’s strengths?
  • Do they support and challenge each other?
  • Are they clear about each other’s roles and responsibilities?

Whilst the team will develop it’s own form the individuals in the team
also need to be understood.  Their
needs must continue to be met if their motivation and team performance is to be
  • Do you know what motivates each individual?
  • What is important to them about the work they do?
  • What are their aspirations and strengths?
  • Where is their next growth edge?

Bringing it to
The question for you to consider right now is; where do you spend most of
your time?
AND I wouldn’t be surprised if you said task. In my experience it’s where
most people spend their time!
As a leader your role is to set direction and take people with you so the
2 most important areas of this model are the team and the individuals. If you
harness these two, the team will take care of the task and your job is then to
monitor all three areas and support, redirect ‘get stuck in’ where needed to
keep things moving forward. 
It needs constant tweaking and adjusting to stay on
track  – think of it as you
steering a sailing boat.  You
constantly have to keep an eye on where you are going and pay attention to what
is going on in your environment.
  • Are you being blown off track by the elements – what
    adjustment do you need to make?
  • Do you have to pull into harbour and take stock, refuel?
  • Do you need to be patient until the right conditions appear
    to make the journey as efficient as possible?
  • Are the crew fully occupied and playing to their strengths?
  • Do you notice someone who is de-motivated? 

If you have any tips on effectively leading teams I’d love
to hear them – leave a comment below.
“Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction,
confusion and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.”
Peter Drucker

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