5 Reasons Your Team Keeps Dropping the Ball, and How to Address Them

Muhammad Ali, Tom Brady, Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan are some of the greatest professional athletes the world has ever known, but even these legends occasionally dropped the ball (as it were). It’s only natural, then, that your team members will occasionally do the same.

Even the best employees will occasionally miss out on an opportunity to deliver, but, of course, it’s especially concerning for management when they keep dropping the ball and impact organizational growth in the process.

If your team has been falling short of expectations with increasing frequency, take a closer look at why. Once you’ve identified this “why,” you can begin building resiliency in your business and increasing its catch rate — by using a few proven tactics.

Common causes of missed opportunities

When someone makes an error, the easy approach is to blame that person. However, if you dig a little deeper, you may find that other factors were at play. You might discover, for example, that broader policies and procedures were hindering the entire team’s productivity, such as:

1. Poor communication

Communication is the foundation of business growth. Without open lines, projects and goals will not be effectively detailed throughout teams and departments. This can be particularly concerning when lost/missed information results in lead loss, missed client appointments, or other customer-facing issues.

Therefore, take stock of current communication mechanisms. Does your staff know exactly what information members are supposed to share, and by what means? If not, you have some work to do.

2. Lack of diversity

When the majority of your team members come from similar backgrounds, they may excel in several key areas that deliver value. However, having a diverse workforce will enable you to explore new solutions for old problems, expand your perspective, and more effectively connect with a target audience. As a corollary, a workforce that lacks diversity might begin to miss out on growth opportunities, especially as you work to break into new markets.

When working to remedy this, make sure that efforts focus not only on race and gender but also age. Generational diversity is a critical component that reliably helps businesses capitalize on opportunities.

3. An unclear organizational structure

Do you have a clear structure tree/breakout that outlines and connects all teams and departments? If not, maintaining a high level of accountability within your organization will be difficult. And there are many types of organizational structures, not all of which may be right for your business size and industry. With that in mind, evaluate yours and consider whether it lends itself to business productivity and agility.

4. Inefficient time management

If you and your team are overworked, it’s easy to lose sight of deadlines and miss targets. While the inclination may be to salt away as much revenue as possible, there comes a point when it pays to allocate tasks to new team members, which means taking on new salaries.

Not sure if your company has reached that point? Entrepreneur recently presented a formula for calculating “buyback rate” and determining if, when and how much to pay others to start handling responsibilities.

5. Misalignment between staff and brand

Does your team truly understand your brand — its goals and the role it plays in achieving them? If not, it will be virtually impossible for them to live up to expectations. You wouldn’t play a game or join a sports league without learning the rules first, and the same logic applies to managing a business. Everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to rules, objectives, expectations and goals.

How to get back on course

While the phenomenon of “momentum” isn’t always well-understood, there is no denying that it can have a significant impact on a company. Both positive and negative events can snowball, thereby influencing growth trajectory Fortunately, you can help your team stop dropping the ball and get back on the right track by taking a proactive approach, including:

• Clarifying the organizational structure: Cleaning this up will eliminate a lot of the confusion between line-level staff, mid-level management and the top tier. It will also reduce resource waste by eliminating management overlap. Fixing your structure will also boost employee morale. All members will know precisely who to turn to when they need help catching an opportunity, including when and how to request additional resources or clarification.

• Empowering your team to take ownership: One of the most effective ways to keep a team from dropping the ball is encouraging them to own project outcomes, a relatively simple process. Every time you take on a task or set an objective, designate someone to oversee it. Explain that they are directly responsible for the project and the results it produces, but also ensure that they will be provided with the necessary resources. Your top performers will thrive when placed in this driver’s seat — will have an outlet through which they can showcase talents, focus energy and deliver value.

• Put a plan in place and follow through: Alicia Underwood, founder and principal strategist of TwentyThree, LLC, considers creating a process as an essential component of achieving business goals. While discussing the topic in an Entrepreneur article, she explained that “…a streamlined process will ensure that the wheels in your business are turning in the right direction.”

The bottom line is that you need to create a detailed plan to help avoid needless mistakes. Such a plan should identify what’s causing missed opportunities and what you intend to do about it, as well as a roadmap that will detail that execution. By leveraging these tactics, you can boost team morale, achieve more each day and keep a business on track to reach both short- and long-term goals.

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