This technical team was missing all their targets and at risk for termination. Through our work, we reduced department turnover from 50% over the past two years down to 8%; team morale went up from 4.5 to 6.7 on a scale of 1-10, and their team results went from last place in the country to about the middle of the country.
An executive asked Teams of Distinction to help a key technical team. Morale was in the dumps and they were missing key targets which meant they risked losing most of their budget it they couldn’t turn things around. Most everyone would lose his job.
Uncovering the true / Real Issues
First, I interviewed the team and the leader. The leader was loved but not effective. People were frustrated by the lack of results. The leader admitted to me within 30 minutes, “Maybe this is not the right fit for me. I was hired to do x, and now I am managing y.” I sat in on a two hour team meeting to see what was going on in the trenches. 60 minutes in it was all clear. Each agenda item consisted of 10-20 minutes of people complaining about what was wrong. The leader did nothing but listen. Then she moved to the next item. She wrote nothing down. She offered no rebuttals nor suggested any actions. No wonder they were underperforming: all they did as a team was complain!
The Turning Point
At that point, I interrupted the meeting and said, “I noticed that you spend most of your time complaining. Why don’t you talk about what can be done to solve the problems?” While I expected them to complain to me about how they couldn’t solve these problems, the team actually appreciated the input. They thanked me and started going 50/50: five minutes complaints, five minutes problem solving.
With just a couple more meetings, a few more suggestions, and some advice to the team leadership, department turnover went from 50% over the past two years down to 8%; team morale went from 4.5 to 6.7 on a scale of 1-10, and their team results went from last place in the country to about middle of the country.
The Lesson Learned
The power of negativity is very strong. It doesn’t mean you can’t complain or examine problems. But if you do that alone, you will drive your team out of work! Change the focus to problem solving and your team results will transform.