How to Manage a Team That Is Taking Advantage of You

Managing a team effectively means ensuring the work gets done on time. If you find that you have to complete tasks yourself or the team members take advantage of you in other ways, it’s time to alter the team dynamics and get your team back on track. To regain control, start by assessing your own leadership style. By adapting your approach to the type of employees you manage, you can communicate more effectively, set appropriate standards and goals, enforce rules, and enable your team to accomplish its goals.


  1. Assess the situation with your team. For example, if team members repeatedly miss deadlines, produce poor work and force you to take up the slack, find out what’s really going on. Management experts Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard developed a situational leadership model to deal with occurrences like this. The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory states that leaders fail when they don’t match their approach to the maturity of the team. Perhaps your team lacks the ability to complete job tasks.


  1. Establishing clear goals for the project helps you focus the team. Gather them together and explain the requirements, as dictated by the project’s sponsors and stakeholders. The sponsor typically provides the funding for the effort. The stakeholders usually include anyone affected by the output of your project. Ensuring that your team understands the purpose of the project and these influences typically helps motivate them. To get buy-in from a team that’s taking advantage of you, involve them in the process of creating the project plan and writing objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.


  1. By setting clear expectations for your team, you ensure everyone knows what to do. Establish a responsibility matrix that lists the tasks that need to be performed, who performs them and whether they are responsible, accountable, informed or consulted. Getting agreement on this matrix helps set the precedent for getting work done without an argument later on. Get support from your superiors on setting these expectations as well.


  1. If your team fails to listen to your direction, you need to establish clear consequences for insubordination. You also need to praise employees for positive behavior. Make a list of the activities you don’t want your team to continue doing. Then, call a meeting and explain your reasons for instituting new policies and procedures. If necessary, isolate employees who seem to instigate problems and meet with them individually. Conduct team-building exercises to motivate employees to take more positive actions going forward and ensure that each team member knows that he is accountable for his actions. If all else fails, contact a representative in your Human Resources department, if available, for help regarding disputes and to ensure you follow your company’s protocol. Engage a mediator to handle conflicts if you can’t work it out on your own.