How to Manage Underperforming Projects & Team Members

Today, let’s chat about what happens when a project and its team members… go sideways.

For example, what happens when one of your team members is underperforming or not delivering? This is a common situation, one that I’ve been in and thought – oh wow, this is not what I need.

Similarly, if this has happened to you, you might think a million things at once. Especially since it’s likely to cause a disruption. (Which, in the end, may actually be good.) Or you might be thinking about all of the work that’s going to land back on your plate. Or how you might have to unravel the whole situation and extract all of the necessary knowledge from the potential team member or project manager.

There are a lot of things to consider when the project is not going your way or it’s going sideways or your team is not delivering what you need. So what do you do to turn things around in this situation?

Step-by-step guide on what to do to turn things around

This is my step-by-step guide on what to do to turn things around.

First, hit the pause button immediately. When you realize something is wrong, hit pause – you can’t go on and hope that it corrects itself. 9.9 out of 10 times, it won’t. So, do everything you can to lean away from that urge, hit the pause button and reevaluate.

Second, address the concern with your team members or project manager. Is there something going on in the background causing delays that you’re not aware of? You need to have a full grasp of the situation and unfortunately, neither of you can mind-read. With this information, you can move forward and make decisions with all of the facts on-hand.

Third, give them a chance to turn it around… unless, of course, performance or the relationship has been egregiously bad. But otherwise, you saw enough in them to bring them on board in the first place.

Fourth – monitor and eject. This is so that you’re not loosey-goosey about the situation. Once you address it, there’s a problem. You have to monitor it consistently. And… if you’re still not getting what you need, hit that eject button immediately. Do it, and do it quickly. I know it can be uncomfortable, but there’s no need to be rude – this is business and not personal. You’ve set up and outlined what you weren’t comfortable with, and you’ve given them a chance to turn it around. But to keep your business overboard and healthy, it’s just something that needs to happen.

Fifth and finally, make sure to look back. What did not go right in this project? When did it go off track, and is there any documentation of it? All in all, this is how you prevent making the same mistake again. Maybe there wasn’t enough monitoring upfront, or your expectations weren’t clearly outlined, or the timeline was too aggressive. Note and document those things and keep them in mind for the next person. This will ensure they’re set up for success and won’t fall off track.

In sum, that’s how you turn things around. If a project or a team member is underperforming, or projects are going sideways, those are the five steps you need to follow to get things back on track. If you have any questions, reach out to me, drop me a comment below, or schedule a complimentary clarity call so that we can figure out how you might be able to turn things around for yourself – and fast.

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