Does your team seem to be lacking motivation?
Does your team struggle with creativity? Have you noticed a dip in performance? Does it seem like no matter what you try, nothing can nudge your team forward to progress?
If you're a team leader of any capacity, there's a good chance you have experienced the rut. This is the place teams go to stall out and dry up. In fact, fewer things could be more disheartening than watching potential-filled employees and team-members you care about underperform.
Once your team finds itself in a rut, it can be quite an exhausting process to escape. As the team's wheels continue to spin and the engine continues to rev up...overtime, the overall productivity will wane while the overall frustration will rise. Teams that are stuck in that pesky rut will notice a stall in creativity, performance, enthusiasm, and morale.
So...what can you do to help your team escape the rut and drive on toward success and achievement? The first task is to understand and articulate why your team got into that rut. As Michael Hyatt says, "When you lose your why, you lose your way!" I believe the fundamental factor behind teams getting stuck centers around the win.
Winning is crucial for team inspiration, progress, and development. In fact, every individual win serves as a bankable point that gets deposited into the vault of achievement. Team-members need to be able to look back into their vaults and see how much they have earned, achieved, and conquered. Winning takes many different shapes, forms, and sizes. As you consider the 3 reasons your team is stuck in a rut, be hopeful that this rut can be overcome!
Reason #1 - The Wins Aren't Clear Enough.
When I'm consulting with team leaders, one of my first priorities is to help them clarify their win. Win can also be applied as an acronym that stands for 'what's important now?' One of the first reasons teams find themselves in a rut is that they simply do not know the top focus of their team, department, or organization. They lose sight of workplace priorities, strategic goals, and vision-based objectives. This is why the primary responsibility of a leader is, always, to establish clarity.
In his book, The Advantage, Pat Lencioni argues that healthy organizations have four pivotal practices: they build cohesive teams, create clarity, over-communicate clarity, and reinforce clarity. Clarity is a necessity! It's commerce for trust-building. It's fuel for momentum. Start evaluating your wins. Are they crystal clear? Are they known and understood by everyone? When was the last time you reviewed them with your team? Does everyone know how they can play their part?
Reason #2 - The Wins Aren't Calibrated Enough.
Sometimes goals have to be tweaked and adjusted. One of the fatal flaws of goal-setting is to set lofty, unrealistic, or irrelevant goals. That's why acronyms like SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timebound) are so powerful. They serve as accountability pieces that give us opportunities to re-evaluate our pursuits and make necessary adjustments along the way. Too often, we set a course or destination only to find that needs shift and new obstacles surface. When these variables begin to change, we must learn to pivot.
The beauty of re-calibrating our wins is that it serves as an easy way to seek and incorporate team-member feedback. You can honor your employees and team-members by giving them an opportunity to share their voice. These feedback loops are critical for re-calibrating the wins. By incorporating this realistic feedback, you will both honor your team and equip them for success down the road. When was the last time your adjusted your win with the team? Is your win still relevant?
Reason #3 - The Wins Aren't Celebrated Enough.
Celebration is life blood for your team and organization. It adds pizzaz to the workplace. The research showcasing the benefits of celebration is plentiful yet this practice is often (and tragically) neglected in many of our organizations. Too many leaders either undervalue its importance or feel inept or overwhelmed when it comes to fostering celebration. This is where the understanding of some basic psychology goes a long way. Positive reinforcement is a proven method for setting people up for success.
Similarly, taking the time to celebrate when your team accomplishes a key task or hits that meaningful benchmark is a great way to re-energize and re-engage your team. These celebratory moments reinforce the wins and empower your people to continue making progress. The good news is that celebrations take all shapes, forms, and sizes as well. You don't have to become a full-time party planner in order to properly celebrate with your team. However, your willingness to try different methods of celebration will make a significant impact in your leadership.
Consider the trying some of the following ideas:
Publicly praising a team-members
Privately praising a team-member
Delivering hand-written appreciation notes
Giving out gift cards or little bonuses
Taking the team out to eat
Putting up balloons and streamers in a noticeable area
Bringing snacks, food, or cake to the break room
Having a mini awards ceremony
If you're a leader who frequently clarifies, calibrates, and celebrates the wins in your organization, your team will not only avoid the rut...it'll thrive!
Lead well friends!
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