What do you do if you inherit a poorly performing team?

2.3k views1 Upvote17 Comments

Director of IT in Software, 51 - 200 employees
The first thing I would do, I'll have one on one with each of the team members and will try to identify the issues with each individual. Then based on the issues will try to address them accordingly. Also will try to set up some training programs in order to elevate their skills.
Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in Software, 2 - 10 employees
Finding the cause of the poor performance in a non judgmental way. Ask the team members themselves how they would improve the situation. Use this information to create a new plan. 
Director of IT in Software, 10,001+ employees
Regardless of whether poor performing or not, one of the first things to do when assuming ownership of a new team is to meet one-on-one with each of the staff to understand their thoughts on the position, workload, team dynamics, opportunities, etc.  It is only once an understanding of WHY the team is performing poorly is gained that you can actually take action to change the outcome.
Chief Technology Officer in Finance (non-banking), 11 - 50 employees
A poorly performing team is probably also a poorly managed team. Responsibility goes both ways. Things like providing clear goals and and addressing long standing issues can build back respect in management. Depending upon the team size, get to know as many as you can and just listen. In my experience, one or two people with a bad attitude can be incredibly disruptive. So if this is the case, move them on ASAP if you determine you can't change their outlook. Whilst at the same time, reward those that are achieving. This sends a clear message about how you operate.
VP of IT in Real Estate, 201 - 500 employees
Get the facts.  Why was it interpreted (even by yourself) that this is a poorly performing team?  Have one-on-ones with EACH team member.  Determine whether it may have been poor leadership or other circumstances that contributed to their performance assessment.  Then, meet again either individually - or as a team - or both ... reset objectives/timelines/requirements, and manage from there.  If at any time during this process it becomes evident that changes need to be made, make them and MOVE FORWARD.
Chief Technology Officer in Software, 11 - 50 employees
There is always a reason they are not performing well. Reserve yourself to jump to quick conclusions here as quite often there are legacy issues simmering beneath the surface which you will uncover once trust is established. 
Director Of Technology in Education, 51 - 200 employees
Depends on my role for the team.  Am I the Director?  The Manager?  The Team lead?  Coach?  Lots of nuanced meaning to “inherit” a team.

Assuming I’m in authority to hire and fire then we need to evaluate if there are any individuals who are needing to be removed or if we need to do any immediate hiring.  Sometimes we need a new person to bring new energy without bringing their emotional baggage.

Too often leaders shy away from telling someone that they are fired.   I’ve only had to do it twice; but it was needed for the good of the team.

Nobody should be fired (or hired) without careful consideration.  But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be fired.

Depending on the size of the team hiring or firing one person won’t make a substantial difference.  i.e. if you have a team of twenty (20) that is substantially different than a team of three (3).

Sometimes a professional sports team replaces the coach when the team isn’t doing a well.  The owner of the team can’t replace every player but it is possible to quickly replace the coach.   The coach determines which players do play and which ones should sit on then bench.

In my experience it is important to bench players who aren’t ready to play at their best level.  It’s not popular (but it often helps morale in the long run) to remove the toxic or error prone individuals.

Keep the best players engaged and sit the weak players to the side if you have enough members on your team.
CTO in Software, 11 - 50 employees
There should be reasons to be poor performing. Need to understand the real reasons behind the issue and try to figure them out one by one. There could be an internal issue about the work attitude that needs to fix within the team. Another external reason could be work allocation irrespective of the team capability which needs to be discussed with stakeholders and the product manager. If there is anyone who is not capable to handle bare minimum tasks, needs to replace. no other option.
MSP & IT Director in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
A poorly performing team can be because of one or more team members or the team lead. It would be best to meet with each team member and get a full understanding and assessment of their roles and perspectives, the challenges they have faced and then make a plan to move foreword with clear goals and benchmarks that everyone signs off on. Then you can have accountability on the results. Make changes as you go, including replacing staff if necessary. 
Director, Information Technology in Services (non-Government), 10,001+ employees
Every team has strengths and weaknesses. Meet with the overall team and candidly ask how things are going, what is going well, and what needs improvement and why. Perhaps the required tools for the job are not available, certain roles are not being filled, the priorities are not being set, overwork, etc. Then meet with each individual to determine their needs, goals, and aspirations to determine how they could better fit into the team.

Close and gaps and then setup the team for success, starting with small wins to gain team confidence followed by hopefully larger victories.

Eventually, people will notice the transformation. No matter what happens, always give credit to team members for any success. As Warren Buffet stated, “Praise by name, criticize by category”.

Content you might like




10.6k views6 Upvotes6 Comments

We provide company-wide training57%

We only train certain departments/roles32%

We have a targeted individual training approach.9%

I am unsure how we handle security training.3%