After fighting with back pain for two weeks, I finally relented and went to see my massage therapist. I’m used to having back issues and while surgery several years ago helped my problem, I still have to deal with flare-ups every now and then. I can usually count on the pain subsiding after three days of rest and care. This time however, I had to revert to my massage therapist, Libby, for help.
Now… before you think, “How nice, Linda is treating herself to a spa massage,” let me clarify; Libby finds pain points and beats them into submission. Her massages have absolutely no similarity to the beach massage you get while sipping on your umbrella drink in Hawaii. They are a workout. No pain, no gain, right?
Yet, I know that if I can make it through Libby’s massage, I will be on my way to the right kind of recovery. It’s not much different in our workplaces. As the leader, Libby was having critical conversations with a few of my muscle groups. Their teamwork was remarkable but some of the weaker teammates were dragging down the overall performance of the team. Sound familiar?
As Libby worked to relieve my back stress, I noticed she never really worked on my back. There were other fatigued muscle groups that needed attention because they were jumping in to serve the team due to the injury. This additional work made them weak and, therefore, another muscle would sacrifice attention from its job to come serve. It’s an AMAZING illustration of teamwork! Yet, overtime, it sucks the life out of the team.
It’s easy to blame or point the finger at the weak teammate; however, I’d like to challenge the leader of the team. There are going to be below standard employees on a team or in a company. It is just reality. Therefore, a leader needs to be willing to deal with it versus ignoring it, hoping it will go away. Instead of going away, things usually get worse, just like my back.
A leader must deal with weak teammates. Not doing so puts pressure and stress on the other team members. This will cause turnover, low morale, or even worse: an acceptance and a culture change to lower standards. Failure to deal with weak teammates makes it appear as if the leader is okay with this type of performance. If you struggle with critical conversations, here are two previous posts that might help you: Ways to Prepare for Critical Conversations and 7 Tips for Growing Teammates through Critical Conversations.
I was optimistic my back would be just fine. I was sure it would work itself out so I ignored it. However, two weeks later I was still in a lot of pain. This led to a painful critical conversation with Libby and I’m not finished with my sessions yet! Seriously, it would have been less painful and less expensive if I had dealt with the problem when it was just a small ache.
What small aches are you seeing in your workplace that you feel optimistic will work themselves out?
- Morale seems quiet and dull – “Oh it will get exciting with the holidays coming!”
- A few customer orders are being dropped – “Isolated issues; that won’t happen again.”
- Teammates consistently coming in late and leaving early – “Gosh, traffic must be bad.”
- Teammates working late nights and on weekends – “Oh they are dedicated. They won’t burn out.”
- New teammate not fitting in – “Give him time. I’m sure he’ll find his place sooner or later.”
- Communication mishaps – “Oh I’m confident this will improve once the holidays are here, traffic goes away, and the new guy feels like a part of the team!”
Ha-ha, yes I’m having fun but all in the spirit of making a point. Don’t ignore the minor aches. Deal with them while they are small so they won’t develop into deeper painful issues.