When Your Team Is Not Performing at a Level You Want

You want your team to perform at a certain level but it is not happening. All you’ve got are some reasons:

  1. They’re all busy chasing contradicting goals.
  2. They’ve listen to the director’s speech last week and they can’t understand it.
  3. Almost all the day they’re facebooking during the office time.
  4. The’re thinking: My colleague who does lousy job gets almost similar salary than mine, why is it so?
  5. They think their senior management just makes promises. Keeping promises is a totally different thing.
  6. They think their dream job awaits outside the department (or the organization).
  7. There’s no leadership in the team which has inspired the team to perform.

Reasons could be 100 more but the problem is common. The team is not aligned to achieving the goal. Possibly the goal is not right or the team or the alignment between two.

Now that’s a defined problem. And, an opportunity to make a difference.

Acknowledging the problem, beginning the process of alignment, seeking frequent feedback and considering the feedback for further actions are some of the steps to begin wtih.

How to Become a Middle Manager Who Rocks

Typically a middle manager would have quite a big responsibility for making it happen. It depends upon the type of organization and the way top management expects the results.

So how to rock as a middle manager? Well, Here are some tips:

  1. Demand clear, specific goals from your boss.
  2. Pull the work that matters.
  3. Ask your boss tough questions which challenge dominating premises.
  4. Do your best to fulfill those goals.
  5. If your boss guides you about ‘how’ to achieve the goal but you have a different idea, insist. Brainstorm and conclude. But once concluded, commit to it.
  6. Define clear, specific goals for your subordinates.
  7. Demand excellence. Convey that anything less than excellence will not be tolerated.
  8. Ask your subordinates tough questions, which make them discover new ways of achieving the goals.
  9. Inspire your subordinates to ask you tough questions.
  10. Inspire your subordinates to pull the work that matters.
…and you’ll rock as a middle manager.

Whom Do You Want to Keep? Ineffective Project Managers or Ineffective Project Management Practices?

Probably it is a time to rethink our project management strategy.

“Earlier Project Managers of our organizations have applied project management concepts so poorly that we need to switch to some other project management practice.”

“Perhaps the principles offered by PMI are not for the project managers of our organization. Why can’t we alter the project management methodology so that we can pacify our project managers?”

There’s a problem with above thinking.

Incompetence of people in project management is never a good reason to alter the known, proven set of practices based on project management principles.

However better project management methodology poor project managers employ, they produce poor results.

Principles of project management methodologies are valued only when they’re used by right people to produce right results.

It’s never like those principles have worked for this set of people so it will work for other set of people as well.

It is important to know what to change, why to change and when to change. It’s more effective when preceded by “whom” to change.

The Inordinate Team Member

Have you ever led a team which has an inordinate team member?

In most cases, it is good to get rid of such a team member sooner than later. However, there are situations where you employ the tactical approach and don’t sack him.

The reasons could be one or more of the following:

  • When you hired him, you’d anticipated that you’d keep him and he’s serving a greater purpose than just being an inordinate team member;
  • He possesses the skills no one else would have and you make a deliberate compromise;
  • Consequences of sacking him are much worse than keeping him;
  • Or he’s just indispensable …


But if there is no such case and if such a team member is found doing one or the more of the following, it is worth sacking him sooner than later:

  • He intentionally spoils inter-team relationships;
  • His work is negatively impacting the project he’s part of;
  • He diverts you from living your company vision and achieving your goals;
  • He’s easily replaceable …

Whether to sack such a team member or not maybe a situational decision but I’ve experienced that having the right person in the team is non-negotiable.

Inordinate or otherwise, if the person is not adding value to the team, or team is not adding value to the person, and both are not serving the business goal, then it is better to conclude sooner than later.


Learn project management

I’m not a project manager. Why do I need to learn project management?

What, exactly, does a project manager do?

In software development, the project manager doesn’t always write code, create architecture, perform system tests, or develops and direct user experience.

And yet, no project manager, no project.

The project manager asks questions, “How do we deliver as per the scope?” “What customer satisfaction survey says about the latest release?” The project manager is always focused on delivering results, whether the result is quality, revenue or customer satisfaction.

The job you do, obviously, has nothing to do with whether or not you have the mindset of a project manager. I’ve seen talented people who are clearly project managers…and no-hopers who were just doing something for the sake of doing. I’ve worked with people who always want to get things done…and with those who have an excuse ready when something doesn’t work out.

Project management is not limited to the discipline of project management professionals – all of us can learn how to practice it for getting things done.

If you intend to produce a unique product, service or result that adds value, project management is for you – excellent beings always keep getting better in project management, regardless of their job titles.

Hire a mediocre profile

If you want to employ a software engineer, who will be a part of your long-running dedicated support team and is expected to do exactly what’s told, you might want to instruct your Recruitment team to look for profiles that are mediocre and have not so great self-esteem.

Nah, I’m not kidding.

The problem begins with the belief that the smartest, excellent and easy to recognize stars will be comfortable with your leadership style that may include dictatorship, mistreatment, misapplication, and micromanagement.

Just don’t look for top profiles with very high self-esteem for such needs. Excellent profiles are misfit here.

On the other hand, people who are mediocre, who don’t have high self-esteem or are not proud of what they have achieved so far, are potentially good fit for such needs. Think for yourself!

It’s a different thing that you may not enjoy working with such mediocre profiles and eventually, you will also become one kind of mediocrity if you continue doing so.

Or else, pause for a few minutes and retrospect. You may like to take some concrete actions about the way you lead.

Face the reality. Now, it’s not as easy to face it as reading this post. 😉