My team is in trouble! Poor performance in almost every measurable category. Poor performance in the unmeasurable categories as well. Many, (actually all) organizations and teams struggle with poor performance. Mostly, there is an up and down tempo that varies in frequency depending on many factors. The problem with my team is lack of experience at the first-line supervisor level. Again, there are many factors at play; some are good in their supervisory capacity but weak in the operational and technical functions. Some are the opposite. Others are poor in both supervisory and operational tasks. If I could fire a few of them, I would. So, without the ability to fire the low performers, I have to move forward with the personnel group I have. How do I get them to perform?
Simplify. Over the course of the past six months, I have thrown much at these supervisors. Increased responsibility, higher standards and expectations, a new work schedule, a revamped training program, new projects and initiatives, and a complete culture overhaul. It is too much for them to handle. Many have and will criticize the amount of work I put on them and questions my leadership, but I am a deliberate leader, and from the start, I have been testing the waters. Finding their strengths, their weaknesses, how hard can I push them, where do they naturally excel? All of these questions have answers now, and I have to adjust my strategy.
I will still hold high standards, but the team needs to have a chance to succeed. Right now, they are just keeping their heads above water (barely), as I continue to push for high-quality work. Now, I have to slow the game down. Bring them together and work collectively on what is important to them and me. Once we have determined priorities and agreed on the expectations, we can focus on them. Innovation must be put on the back burner; extra activities will join innovation. The focus is placed on the core competencies of the organization and the primary responsibilities of the supervisors and other managers.
I never expect perfection. To do so is an exercise in insanity. But I will continue to expect high-quality work and a great product or service. Our customers demand and deserve our best. So, we will slow it down and simplify the tasks; rebuild the foundation and then start adding bricks as we become experts in those areas so we can continue to improve. Eventually, we will pull the extra activities and innovation off the back burner and focus in those areas, but for now, the team needs simplicity.