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What to Do When Your Team Doesn’t Listen

First Published August 21, 2018.

Teamwork starts with trust and ends when no one listens. 

I came across this quote a few days ago and it made me think hard if this was true or not. Teamwork is essential in any team and I agree that trust is the foundation that brings teamwork together.  

Any industry thrives on teamwork and it's absolutely critical that teamwork is present.

 But what happens when your team just doesn't listen? There is no quick answer to this question.

But what I can say is that if they if they do not listen, then their engagement towards you is low and it needs to get fixed! And ASAP!

 I've outlined a few things that will help you in answering how you can get them back to being engaged.

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1. Think introspectively and analyze your behavior honestly

I have witnessed leaders in the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) that the first line of action is to blame the team for its behavior. This is the wrong approach.

When the team doesn't listen, there is a huge chance that the supervisor has something to do with it.

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So, be truthful and really analyze how you've been acting towards the team.

Have you made repeated comments that were not taken well?

Have you tried to bridge with the team ?

How have you been treating the team? How is their morale? Did you have something to do with the low morale?

These are only a few of the questions that you can start with.

There are lots more and be ready to toughen up because these are very difficult questions to answer but if answered truthfully, can be liberating.

The goal is to understand your behavior to understand your team's behavior.

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2. Swallow your pride and accept it

Once you've identified the actions that caused your team to be less engaged, this is the next brutal step.

Accepting that you are the cause of your team's bad behavior is tough. But no matter what the justification is for your actions, your team needs you to turn things around.

This is where you really need to step up.

Swallowing your pride to admit you made a mistake is not a sign of weakness. In fact, this is a good thing.

Not only for your own peace of mind but for your team. Once your team sees that you are making efforts to improve the situation, they will start to be open to you and start to mend ties.

Be genuine in accepting your mistakes and truly be okay with the fact that you made a mistake.
Accept that even if you're a leader, you also make mistakes.


Check out my 50 Team Engagement Activities Guide that will Transform your Team Today!

3. Talk to your team

This is not a team huddle. This is a meeting where you will address the issue head on.  This step is critical and really needs to happen.  

The purpose is to get everyone a look aligned and finally move forward. Below are some of the suggestions on how you should conduct it:

  • Set a time and date  -  Send an invite and advise everyone ahead of time. Indicate that everyone needs to be there and to make arrangements to make sure attendance. Do not do a surprise attack. Your team needs to feel secure and comfortable. Not agitated and anxious.
  • Provide an agenda -  Be upfront and tell your team that you would like to discuss critical incidents happening in the team. And that you'd like to discuss it further.  Now some of your team members might not show up. That's fine..you can meet them in a separate session. But if you can  get them all in one meeting then the better.
  • Make them feel secure - While you have a list of things that you need to go through, always remember that your team's reception of your message will depend on how they secure they feel in that meeting. So start with letting them know that they are in a safe environment and that you encourage feedback either after you have finished with your list or while you're going through it. It's up to you on how you'll approach it but it's important that you try your best to make them feel secure in this meeting.
  • Set clear expectations - Since you have your agenda, reinforce this to your team and provide an explanation why. Example, instead of saying "Discuss issues" say something like " Discuss and clear issues regarding schedule change" . This sets the tone to your team and it will help that understand what you want out of the discussion
  • Be level-headed all throughout the discussion - While I recognize that this may be harder than it seems, try not to get affected with emotions that may run throughout the meeting. Stay focused on the objective. The meeting should end that all of you are moving forward and you play a pivotal role in this.
  • Close the meeting with a strong recap and go forward plan - Recap. Recap. Recap. This is important every time you close any meeting but even more during a critical meeting with your team. The recap has the summary of what was discuss and the next steps. Do not forget to go through both before closing the meeting.

Team Engagement Facts:

"Companies with engaged employees see 233% greater customer loyalty and a 26% greater annual increase in revenue" - Aberdeen


Team Engagement is a MUST to survive in the workplace. 

LEARN HOW TO DO BUILD A

SUSTAINABLE TEAM ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM

TODAY

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 4. Do what you said you will do

Having the meeting with your team is a critical step in rehabilitating your team. Nothing will set you back fast but the behavior you show your team AFTER the meeting especially if you do not do what you say you would.

Your team will closely watch you. And this is fine and expected.

Whatever you have committed in that meeting will need to happen. Every. Single. Thing. 

This shows your team that you are serious in making steps to improve the relationships and that you are following through to make this happen.

Fostering teamwork within your team is a lot of work and it's an even long list of actions when your team is not engaged.

If you want to build an engagement program that will help you manage your team's morale and motivation, check this out.

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About Daisy Casio

Daisy Casio is a Passionate Operations Leader with over 16 years of work experience in various leadership roles. She has run diverse teams in multiple locations and has built teams from the ground up. She is the Founder of ChampLeaders Blog dedicated to transforming leaders to Champions. She writes about leadership, management, productivity, career tips, team engagement and many more. 

2 Comments

  • Mvere Rosemary Sikathele

    that is really true and guiding. but most of african leaders divide their teams themselves by not trusting and respecting other members as well as favouritism hence gossips and lies will eventually lead which is very distractive.

  • Daisy

    That’s unfortunate. I think that’s why listening is very transformative. Not only does it build trust, but it also brings the team together. Only in truly listening are teams become empowered and successful.

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