Turn that team around!

The other day I was lucky enough to have lunch with a friend and former colleague, Dallas Hobbs. For the last few years, Dallas has been working at a local resort, and over lunch was telling me about the team he inherited a few years ago. There was drama, in-fighting and lots of “under-the-bus” throwing. He said it took awhile, but finally he had the team firing on all cylinders and willing to bend over backwards for each other.

You know me… I had to ask him how he did it.

Here’s what he said:

  • Got rid of the wrong people – Dallas quickly assessed who the trouble makers were and gave them a chance to follow his rules and vision.  When they didn’t, it was time for them to seek employment elsewhere.  How many of us have bad apples on our teams that are doing nothing but bringing morale and productivity down?  And why are they still working for you?
  • Was willing to be short staffed – when you remove people from your staff, you need to replace them, just maybe not right away.  Dallas was willing (even though it was difficult) to run with a skeleton crew while he took the time to find the right people to build up his team.  He had to really figure out what the team needed, and the only way to do that is to observe them over time. Which leads us to…
  • Hire for what the team needs – Dallas went beyond the basic job description of a position he was hiring for, and looked at what strengths and weaknesses the current team possessed. He realized that to simply hire more of what he already had would be a mistake.  He needed balance.  He needed people that could interact with guests AND take care of the paperwork, setting-up equipment and all the other nitty gritty, less glamorous stuff.
  • Hire the person, not the resume – In his quest to find balance, Dallas didn’t necessarily look for people who already had experience in his exact field.  He looked for people who liked to do the “type” of work he had for them to do, so he hired based on personality and skill, rather than simply looking at experience. One of his most successful employees had never worked in this type of environment before, where as one of his least successful hires had tons of relevant experience.  The latter was so stuck in her old ways that she couldn’t adapt to the new environment.

And the kicker…

  • Change supervisor mentality from reactive to proactive – Many supervisors pride themselves on being good at putting out fires.  Unfortunately, if all you are doing is reacting to the daily issues, you will never have a chance to look forward to be able to make things better and actually LEAD your team.  Dallas got them to identify what was causing the fires in the first place so they could eliminate them from happening.  That way they would have more time to be proactive and look to the future, rather than always looking toward the past.

So clearly this was not an overnight process.  It was painful at times, and it probably took a lot of effort to get people to come around and work as a team.

But eventually they did.  And now Dallas can focus on moving forward, instead of worrying about which way the bus is going.

Are you having issues with your team?  How could some of these suggestions work for you?

Thanks for reading!

About the author: Matt Heller is always looking for great stories about teamwork and leadership in order to give his readers and clients as many different perspectives as possible.  If you have a compelling story you are willing to share, let’s hear it!  Either leave a comment or email Matt directly.