In the Dutch language we have the following expression: ‘As the wind blows, so does her skirt.’ When I ask Eline whether she knows this expression, she looks at me and nods. She laughs because she realizes that this sentence sums up her whole story.
Eline is a manager. She struggles because everyone in her team goes his or her own way. The promises are not being kept and the atmosphere between the team members has its ups and downs. They also have a lot to say on Eline. ‘They wobble,’ she says. And, ‘I have no control over this team.’
As our conversation proceeds it becomes clear that Eline is wobbly herself. Afraid to upset her team members and willing to keep the peace, she allows agreements to change constantly. How the wind blows…
If you wobble, your team wobbles with you.
Eline admits that making decisions is not one of her strongest points. ‘The team’ always wants her to make different decisions and Eline often wonders whether they are right. As a result her strategy changes all the time. More often than not deadlines are stretched and to the least extended. Agreements altered or not fulfilled. Attending someone to his or her behavior does not have any effect because everyone knows: today it is this approach, tomorrow it will be different. And if not tomorrow, it will be the day after.
As our conversation goes on it becomes painfully clear to Eline: It is not surprising that the team behaves as it does.
If your team wobbles it is time for action!
The worst thing you can do is to postpone making things right again. Postponement means that you accept the situation the way it is. It affects your credibility. The power the (team) system will come into action and ultimately everyone will ‘wobble’. The problems (read: your problems) will not become any smaller. So it is time for action. Now!
Make sure that you stand firm yourself
It may take some time but it is possible to turn the tide. And this starts with yourself. Instead of looking at the team first, it is better to look at yourself and to examine your way of leadership.
In addition to my tips mentioned in the blog ‘Will they still like me’, Eline has made a top 5 list of the tips that have helped her in this process. One extra tip I would like to give you is that Eline has made use of a notebook in which she wrote everything down. This helps her to be inspired when she faces a difficult situation.
Eline’s top 5 tips
1. Know who you are, what you do and why. The better you know yourself, the more confident you are. Consider this knowledge to be the foundation of your actions. Know that you do not have to act as if you are different than the person who you truly are.
2. Take the position of the leader. Take the lead and pay attention to your team members. With the emphasis on ALL team members. Know what drives them and what concerns them. Encourage each to get the best out of himself in their own way.
3. Formulate your communal (team) contribution to the success of the organization. Give the employees something to hold on to. Where are you heading? Spread this message clearly and make your team members co-responsible for the success. Eline added something what I fully support: celebrate the successes you book.
4. Be clear in your communication. How tempting it may be to equivocate, it is important to be trustworthy. Especially when the message is complicated. Be clear and straightforward in your communication, make clear agreements and come back to them. Always! In case of undesirable behavior, respond immediately. In private. If you see desirable behavior, respond immediately as well. Give a compliment, preferably in public.
5. Walk your talk. Eline has already mentioned it in the fourth tip: be trustworthy. What you say may sound nice but what people see is of more importance than any of your comments. Your words are not of any significance until you live up to them. Take the lead here: show everyone what you expect them to do.
Which tip could you add to this?