Six Reasons Your Team is Underachieving


The end of the year is a time for reflection, and often a useful opportunity to consider what you can do as a leader to improve your team in the year to come.

When you take a moment to review your team’s performance, keep in mind that every organization could be perceived as underachieving.

It isn’t your team alone that “could do better.”

Part of the anguish of every leader is the recognition that the talent you have on hand could perform at a higher level, if only they worked together better.

No matter how weak or strong their abilities, there are six reasons your team has been underachieving:

1. They have not committed to a clear and unifying goal

Without a destination and a date to reach it, your people don’t know which direction to row in or how hard they need to work to get there!  The first and most important part of being successful is being specific with the goal you set.  It should not only be specific, but should bechallenging enough to inspire them to want to “raise the bar” and invest in doing something special.

2. They have not built strong enough relationships

This is the most overlooked part of any team’s development.  People work harder for, and better with, those they care about – and you care more about those you know well enough to appreciate both their talents and faults.  You must provide time and opportunity for them to play and talk… and share more than just paperwork!  Everything is based on relationships – and knowing the background and desires your people have helps to build rapport and motivate them.  This is why team building events are valuable!

3. They have not been encouraged to fill the right role

It is frustrating to watch a toddler try to force a round peg into a square hole on his plastic workbench.  But many leaders do the same thing out of convenience or custom – and putting the right people in the wrong roles (or not identifying clear expectations for everyone on your team) can be disastrous.  Find ways to match your people with roles that fit their talents – then share encouragement on a consistent basis to build their confidence and trust.

4. They have not been held (or held others) accountable

When committed to a clear goal, your people will be more willing to have uncomfortable conversations and push each other to perform.  But accountability is a process of measuring and publishing performance.  When you put a number on something, people invariably want to beat that number – and numbers do not lie.  But when those numbers fall short, a good leader will address it and work with the team member to support their improvement.  Sean offers Custom Team Workshops that focus on addressing the most common team issues.  Neglecting to have these difficult meetings only undermines the culture of success you want to create.

5. They have not been rewarded for what you want repeated

One of the most powerful energizers you can provide your people is a “AA” battery.  If you share with them what you admire and appreciate, you will be amazed at how they respond!  It is also important to celebrate small victories along the path to reaching your ultimate goal.  Instead of waiting to reward the completion of the entire project, find process goals and checkpoints to enjoy and acknowledge along the way.  People are starved for recognition – feed them!

6. They need better listening or leadership skills

Even when you have the right people in the right spots with a clear goal, the ability to communicate and share ideas effectively – leading and/or listening as the situation demands it – is tremendously important.   The experiential learning activities that teambuilding provides your people can be a valuable training ground for building leadership skills or a willingness to listen and benefit from other’s ideas.  As a microcosm of the communication challenges your team will experience in real life, teamwork activities offer a safe and fun environment where you can address issues that otherwise might sabotage your success.


So as you consider how to improve your organization’s performance and team culture, remember that these six reasons your team is underachieving are all correctable!  Rather than despairing at what they are not doing now, take a moment to imagine what they might be able to accomplish when you address the missing ingredient from the list above.

If you are interested in transforming your group into a more productive team, consider the impact that a fun teambuilding event or interactive speaking presentation might have on the cohesiveness, focus, and morale of your organization.

Helping your people realize their potential takes more than strategy – and a day of challenging activities to improve communication skills and focus on the issues you are experiencing can have a tremendous impact.

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