Is Your Team Stuck in a Rut?

team stuck in a rutDo you ever find yourself thinking about a time when your team was more energized, inspired, and excited about work? It’s not uncommon for company cultures to unknowingly slip into such slumps, which are often the result of being stuck in a rut or any number of disserving habits or routines. When this happens, the people there can slowly lose their performance momentum and their innovative mindset because they’re doing things just because that’s how it’s always been done. In short, they’re feeling generally unchallenged or unmotivated to change. As a Disciplined Leader, it’s part of your responsibility to be on the lookout for when your team is losing its steam or simply doesn’t seem excited about work anymore. The solution? Take action and develop a plan to re-inspire your people and implement the strategies that support it.

There are a number of ways you can do this. Here are three:

  1. Push your people. Teams often get into ruts because they’re no longer learning—or in a culture that consistently supports learning. And even in organizations teaming with bright and motivated people, this scenario can happen. Companies reach a plateau of success and instead of pushing themselves to achieve more, kick back on their “laurels” and slip into that cushy comfort zone. Pushing people starts with demanding excellence and ongoing professional development. But you have to do more than advocate for it…you must provide opportunities for them to grow and develop not just individually but from a team standpoint. For example, many of MAP’s clients have realized that there’s greater value in sending entire teams to our executive 2.5-day workshop as opposed to one lone warrior. In this way, entire organizations get inspired and motivated collectively, not just individually. The buy in for change becomes greater. And still, there are many other ways to educate and empower your teams, pushing them to source out and take on challenges that would otherwise be ignored or missed. Something as simple as demanding that everyone at your next meeting leave with the “homework” to come up with a new solution for a problem is a simply strategy that gets people thinking beyond what they currently think or believe is possible.

  2. Shake things up. Ever noticed how when you go into a team meeting, people often sit in the same chairs, even next to the same people? Or how about the fact that when people walk into work in the morning, the common procedure is for everyone to head straight to their desk or cubicle, diving straight into work with little to no check-in with fellow team members? There are so many little routines that our teams tend to adopt and carry out on autopilot, which unknowingly create a culture that, no surprise, is incredibly predictable and routine. While predictability and being routine can be beneficial to some degree, too much of it can put your organization at risk from a competitive standpoint. So shake things up…ask people to change seats (to get them talking to someone new) and start holding morning huddles, gathering your team for brief accountability meetings that allow you all to connect and share how you’re doing, discuss needs or issues, and provide an opportunity for greater support and solutions.

  3. Lead by example. You can’t ask your team to get out of its rut if you’re not doing it yourself. Start noticing and tracking habits you have that aren’t challenging and supporting you in your growth. Once you’ve identified a number of them, determine the top 20% of those habits that will likely bring about the greatest amount of impact. Breaking down this greater goal of getting out of your own ruts into smaller, bite-size goals will make them more doable. You’ll also find you’ll be more likely to succeed if you focus on addressing just a few of your ruts versus a whole laundry list of habits to improve upon and achieve.

How does out-of-the-box thinking help get your people out of a rut?

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