Your Team Failed to Meet Expectations? Here’s How to Recalibrate

Last week, with the World Cup underway, I wrote about the resurgence of German soccer and how success can lead to failure can lead to success. I outlined how the defending champions did a tremendous job of rebuilding their national program over the past 20 years.
What happened next? Well of course once I posted the blog the Germans failed to make it out of the first round of a World Cup for the first time since 1938!
Which provides a great topic for this week’s blog: What do you do when your highly regarded team fails to live up to expectations?
1) Analyze “Why?”
Your emotional reaction to the team not living up to expectations might cause you to act rashly: Fire the manager! Get rid of team members!
Stop. Before you make a bad situation worse, step back and analyze both what happened and why it happened? In Germany’s case, were the tactics misguided? Were the players too old? Did they lack fitness? Was teamwork lacking? Or, more likely, was it a combination of factors?
Don’t take definitive action until you understand the various factors that led to the poor results.
2) Look in the Mirror
You’re the leader. It starts with you. What do you need to do to give your team the best chance to succeed? Provide clearer focus and direction? More resources, skills or authority? Meaningful feedback about their performance? Incentives and rewards that are aligned with objectives? Often, poor performance results from what we as leaders haven’t done.
However, what if you have done what you should do yet a few team members still aren’t performing? Then it’s the people. Maybe you need to improve your process for selecting the right people.
3) Intersect the Future, not the Past
Once you understand the “why” behind the failure and once you’ve looked in the mirror, then you can take action. But don’t take action simply to respond to the failures of yesterday. Things are forever changing. Take action that anticipates the challenges of tomorrow. Otherwise, you’ll always be playing catch-up.
It happens to every organization. Sometimes, a highly regarded team will simply fail to live up to expectations. Analyze why. Look in the mirror. And, critically, intersect with the future.
That’s why the Germans are no longer focused on the current World Cup. They’re focused on qualifying for the next one.
Make it happen.
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