Dear Margo

I have been working with my team for 9 months.  I was promoted into the team from a separate area of the business. It is my first management role and I believe I am doing a decent job. Why else would they have promoted me?   My issue is that team I inherited are performing badly.  It is chaos. We get the work done, only just. Getting to the delivery point is hard and stressful work.  I am constantly fire fighting and having to drag the team along to get them to do anything.  I thought they were a reasonable team when I took over; however, their true colours emerged quickly. They worked with antiquated processes, were isolated from the rest of the business, and although they delivered they were not highly thought of. I wanted to change that.

My focus has been on making changes; processes, communication, engagement and deliverables. I brought to the table faster processes, reduced their reliance on email, pushed (heavily) for them to take ownership of the tasks, I gave feedback and tried to make is constructive.  All of this was to make life easier. The team has not embraced it; HR has informed me absence is up and that the rumour mill is that most of the team are looking for new jobs. Good riddance, I say. Those who are not looking I would like to manage out. I want to bring in my own team and build a team that do what I tell them.


What is the best way to manage the team out? What advice do you have for building new teams?




You asked, I answered…

Thanks for getting in touch. Your letter has me believing you are of the “it’s everyone else who is mad, not me” school of thought.

I applaud your want to get things moving in the right direction and your motivation to want to make a better team.

Your email reads like chaos reigns in your department… ‘ Chaos’ is an interdisciplinary theory stating that within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity (source wiki)…  YOU are likely the cause of the chaos, low morale and productivity.   A hard pill to swallow I know. When it is the rest of the world who is mad, or, your team’s under-performing the underlying pattern is usually the manager, that being you!   The good news is that you’re at the start of your managerial career and mistakes will be made, you are on a steep learning curve. Taking your learnings forward will enhance your experience and in turn make you a better manager.

Step back and consider what you have written: it is all about your wants and wishes. No collaboration or consideration for your team.  And whilst this is all about you, know your team contributing greatly to making or breaking your reputation. And from this email, breaking your reputation is my bet. Although, you are playing a big part in embedding your reputation within the company.

Not knowing how long the team has been in situ for, I am guessing longer than you. They have a wealth of knowledge, they can teach you a thing or two about the role. Use this wealth of experience. Don’t see the team as an inconvenience, see them as a strength. As a manager it is your job to support the team in getting the job done. Yes, you are the manager, however, as you are learning, not having their trust or buy in is proving chaotic, stressful and I suspect career limiting for you!

Managing out the team.   It is easier to replace one person rather than replacing a team. And, I suspect your manager and HR will consider this when the chaos becomes too much.  Guess who the likely one person will be?  is time to step off your high horse and get real. Consider asking the team how they would improve the process?  Have you consulted them on why they are not part of the bigger team? Have you asked them? Now is the time to ask questions and listen.

I suspect to some this may read harshly, to you as someone who shoots from the hip I hope you take the advice in the manner it is intended.

Empower your team to take ownership, do not thrust this upon them.  Give the team feedback on their accomplishments and don’t solely focus on the negatives.   This balanced approach will benefit you and your goals.   A great manager will use all available resources to their best advantage, for you this should include your team.

You have enormous potential to become a great manager.  To be a manager you need people to manage, always treat your team with respect. Respect their knowledge, experience and uniqueness. Make life easier for yourself and work with the team to make improvements. All great managers have a support. Hence why Directors have boards, senior managers have SMT’s (Senior Management Team meetings). Everyone needs support.

Take time out to reflect on how your attitude and behaviour is impacting the team and make changes.  Source feedback from others on your performance.   And remember, a great manager with a poor team will have a poor reputation. A poor manager with a great team with will a poor reputation. Your reputation is vital to success. Nurture it well.

In the meantime JN, please check out the free leadership resources, they will assist you with developing your managerial mind and skill set.  Good luck and remember you too are learning.

If you would like to submit an email for consideration, email me at  I am unable to answer all questions, and those I can, the answer will appear here.  We will not publish your name or any personal details.


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