Is Your Team Suffering from a Lack of Direction?


Is your team suddenly missing deadlines for delivering completed projects to key clients? Are your team members frequently late for work or taking every hour of sick time available to them? These behaviors could be symptoms of a larger problem – failure of leadership and lack of direction on your part.

By paying attention to your team members’ behavior, you can detect weaknesses in your strategy, writes Laura Buckler for leadchangegroup. Determining the source of the problem is only the beginning. You also need to take action to fix your strategy. Here are a few specific leadership problems, out of the ten items identified by Buckler, and suggestions for how to improve your team’s outcomes.

Clear Instructions

Your team is comprised of people with varying levels of experience and skill. To excel, each individual will require a certain amount of instruction and direction from you. If people have been coming up short on the reports you’ve been asking them to write, you can likely trace the issue to the level of direction you’ve provided. For example, a team member who’s worked with you for ten years and has significant writing experience in your company will know that a detailed outline should be included, along with a list of sources used to generate the report. Your direction to that individual may be as brief as asking for a ten-​page report that is similar to the one written last quarter.

A newer team member will require more of your time. You can provide him with a copy of the report from last year to use as a guide, but he may still have trouble deciding how much detail from each source to use. He may need guidance on the tone and level of detail to provide. Plan to spend more time one-​on-​one with new team members, encouraging the writing of several drafts for your review, before the final report is produced.

Follow Through

Some managers love to pontificate about the big changes they are making. Maybe you’ve instituted a new process for approving edits made to reports. Or, maybe you’ve added another level of review to whitepapers before they can be released. Change is great, but it can also be hard for some team members to process without clear direction. Your rock-​star employees may assimilate changes without missing a beat, but other folks may resist change because they feel threatened or confused. This kind of reaction to change can cause schedule slips and friction between your team members. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to follow through. After making an announcement about change, check in regularly for a few weeks or even months, to make sure everything is going smoothly. Ask if any unforeseen problems have cropped up and address them on the spot.

Paying attention to details when you give direction and make changes helps your team members stay on track. These strategies also show you’re a leader who’s willing to roll up her sleeves and focus on issues before they turn into unsurmountable problems.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.