Have you ever felt that your team is underperforming?

Have you ever felt frustrated by your team’s lack of commitment and dedication?

Have you ever thought that your team had more potential, but you weren’t quite sure how to get more out of them?

Having a team of people working under you can sometimes feel like trying to put half a dozen curious kittens into a box. No matter how much you discipline or plead with them, you find them wandering around, distracted by something else and focusing on other tasks or objects. Such is the life of being a business owner or a team leader. Even when you think you’ve got all your team on the right path, something else will come along and snatch them away.

How to get the most out of your team. Team management is like putting kittens into a box.
Image from We Love Cats and Kittens

This is a challenge many, if not most, business owners have to overcome, no matter how experienced they are. And don’t worry, it doesn’t make you a bad or incompetent boss. Just the fact that you’re researching different ways to bring out the best in your team is evidence enough that you’re a reasonable boss, committed to learning and achieving the best outcome for all. It also doesn’t mean that your team members are incompetent. More often than not, it’s due to misaligned expectations, goals and style.

Related: Are you an inspiring leader? Take the quiz to find out!

So, what can you do to get the most out of your team? Fortunately, the strategies to motivate and help your team perform better are in the little things you do as the business owner, not in big gestures (generally).


How to get the most out of your team infographic


#1. Understand their challenges and needs.

People don’t just let you down on purpose. Employees who are not performing to your standards most likely have a reason for that. It is your job as a leader to find out what the reasons are and how you can help them overcome them.

In a constructive and supportive manner, ask your team members about their daily challenges. And be ready to listen, and commit yourself to taking action based on their feedback.

To encourage honest feedback, you could send out an anonymous survey to your staff. In this case, be prepared to receive criticism on your leadership style. A good leader is not born that way, but moulded to bring out the best version of themselves.

You might find that the answer is simpler than you thought. For example, your “slack” employee might be underperforming due to lack of sleep because they live too far away from the office. Knowing their challenges means you actually have the opportunity to rectify their problems.

People don’t just let you down on purpose. Employees who are not performing to your standards most likely have a reason for that. It is your job as a leader to find out what the reasons are and how you can help them overcome them.Click To Tweet


#2. Understand what drives them.

When is the last time you sat down one-on-one with your employees and asked them about their dreams? Everyone has different goals and motivations. In order to get the most out of your team, engage them on a personal level and find out their drive.

What are they inspired by, and what are they striving to achieve? Perhaps it’s their family, a famous figure, a desired lifestyle, or a book they once read.

Take your ego and reservations out of the equation, and listen to your team. A good leader cares about their team and helps them achieve their goals. When your employees feel supported by you, they will support your goals, too.


#3. Ask for their opinions on the company direction.

Your company is nothing without the people that make your ideas happen. It is no surprise then, that your team is one of your most important assets. And that’s not just because they do the work that you can’t or don’t want to do. It’s because they hold the knowledge and insights about the company that you’re not privy to.

Your receptionist could give you important information about your guests’ behaviour in the waiting room and how you can help them feel more comfortable. Your junior marketing assistant can tell you the best software to use to speed up your marketing processes.

While you can’t take everyone’s feedback on board, it is critical to understand the value of their opinions. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your team’s knowledge. Get the most out of your team by asking them how they feel about a certain project, your business processes or the brand image. Tapping into their knowledge is an important aspect of your company’s feedback loop which, if utilised, can help you discover growth opportunities while ensuring employee engagement.


#4. Recognise good work. Give feedback on their impact.

Everyone likes rewards. If nothing else, people want to know that their work is part of something important. For business owners like yourself, this reward can show itself in your revenue, brand recognition or customer feedback. You know the warm fuzzy feeling that you get when you see a 5/5 review? Your staff want to feel that, too.

Different people enjoy different types of reward, though. Some team members would appreciate a praise in a public setting. Some might want a more personal thank-you. Others might look forward to a bonus, benefit or some kind of professional development opportunity.

In order to get the most out of your team, use the knowledge you have gained about your employees to consider various ways of giving recognition. Positive reinforcement is a more powerful motivator than negative reinforcement. Commit to giving your employees something to look forward to.

In order to get the most out of your team, use the knowledge you have gained about your employees to consider various ways of giving recognition. Click To Tweet

Importantly, share with your team how their work contributed to the big picture. Employees who understand the context of their work are more likely to feel motivated to achieve their tasks because they know where it fits in the company direction. Try sharing a process chart and walk them through it. A call centre employee knowing the impact their customer service has on your overall revenue will rightfully feel like an important piece of the puzzle, thus trying harder to make a positive impression on your customers.


#5. Teach them and show them the way.

Nobody can be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes – even your best performing employee, and even you. To get the most out of your team, teach and coach them instead of getting frustrated with them. Great leaders are great teachers, and they help their employees learn from their mistakes.

When you feel that your employees aren’t performing to your standard, go back to the beginning. What are your expectations of them? Have you made your expectations clear to them? Have you taught them how to do things the way you need? Did your team have enough time? Are your expectations reasonable? Have you considered that your way might not be the best? If so, have you provided an environment where your employees can share that feedback with you?

Intimidating your employees with your visible dissatisfaction is a quick way to lose their commitment and loyalty. Instead, sit them down and explain to them what you were looking for. Ask them to show you how they did it. And going back to point 1, learn their challenges and needs.


#6. Take the blame for their mistakes.

Following from the last point, a good leader doesn’t just teach their employees, but takes the blame for their mistakes. In the big scheme of things, you’re responsible for their performance. After all, their performance matters more to you and your business than it does to them.

When you find yourself feeling frustrated with your team’s performance, ask yourself, “What could I have done better?” This is especially the case if you have someone to answer to, like a board. It’s an ugly behaviour to push the blame onto your employees, who now feel embarrassed and guilty on top of having let themselves down.

Taking the blame for their mistakes will show your team that you’ve got their backs and that you’re all in this journey together. And there is no easier way to build loyalty than to protect them from blame and humiliation.

Take it as an opportunity to learn and to be a great leader for your team.


Getting the most out of your team, especially those that seem unmotivated, can be a difficult task to do. Often, our clients find it difficult to find the balance between being a generous boss and still pushing their team to perform better. An outside eye can be helpful in this sense, to help you set the right strategies for your team. If doing this alone however, your best friend is an open mind to reevaluate your own leadership style.