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Why you can’t “fix you team”

One of the things I say to new advisors who join our team is that clients always want us to fix “the team”.

Clients tell us, “They [meaning their team members] have terrible attention to detail, they never follow through, they are always missing deadlines…” (the list goes on and on).  Of course they are right, the team does have these problems — and those problems are holding the company back from the growth that the owner is looking for.

The question is, why do those problems exist?

Is the problem with the team, or is the root of the problem higher up?

Which is more likely? Have you built a hiring process that successfully screens for out the applicants who don’t follow through and are always late? Are you attracting a full range of candidates and only hiring the ones who are going to fail you in this way? Or is there something about the way you manage and lead and the company culture you develop that is creating this chronic problem? Can you remember a time when your team didn’t have these issues? Was there a time when everything worked perfectly? If a problem has persisted through a series of team members, or there’s an issue that’s pervasive across your team, then the source of the problem is most likely you.

Some of you are reading this right now and experiencing some cognitive dissonance — “I’m not causing people to ignore important details? I’m not encouraging slipshod work!” You are thinking back through a series of failed team members and identifying all of their flaws…

Yet, in almost 2 decades of work with business owners, I’ve never had a business owner come to me and say, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, somehow I continue to hire people who are missing deadlines, who can’t keep track of details… What am I doing wrong? How can I be a better leader?” 

If there is a persistent problem on your team then you have to point the finger at yourself first. You hired this team, you manage them day-to-day, you decide what you will tolerate and what you won’t, you reward some behaviors and not others. The team you have is the team you deserve. If you want a different team you have to *be* a different leader.

I want you to sit and think about that for a minute.

Are you dissatisfied enough with your current situation that you want to make changes in the way you are leading? If so, step one is to look in the mirror. 

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