How To Manage Difficult Situations With Team Members [Scenarios]

This Article Discusses Difficult Situations That May Occur Within a Team. You can Learn Team Management Skills to Handle Tough Situations Among Team Members:

In this tutorial, we will discuss various tough situations that may occur within a team. Read this article to learn how to handle conflict among team members.
Team Management Skills

List Of Tutorials In This Test Manager Series:

Tutorial #1: How To Manage Difficult Situations With Team Members? [This Tutorial]
Tutorial #2: Dealing With a Difficult Boss: 10 Brilliant Real Scenarios
Tutorial #3: 8 Brilliant Tips To Handle a Difficult Coworker
Tutorial #4: 10 BEST Strategies For Dealing With Suppliers And Customers
Tutorial #5: 11 Tips On How To Deal With Difficult Situations At Work


Overview Of Tutorials In Test Manager Series:

Tutorial #What You Will Learn
Tutorial #1How To Manage Difficult Situations With Team Members?

This tutorial will educate you on the difficult situations that may occur within a team. You can learn team management skills to handle tough situations among team members from here.
Tutorial #2Dealing With a Difficult Boss: 10 Brilliant Real Scenarios

This interesting tutorial will teach you the ways to deal with difficult people at work. You will clearly get to know how to Deal With a Difficult Boss.
Tutorial #38 Brilliant Tips To Handle a Difficult Coworker

A colleague upsets you in meetings, another frequently turns meetings into battlegrounds. Learn to deal with difficult coworkers using these practical tips from this tutorial.
Tutorial #410 BEST Strategies For Dealing With Suppliers And Customers

This tutorial describes real-life scenarios with a dissatisfied customer or an incompetent supplier & will teach you the strategies to deal with them successfully.
Tutorial #511 Tips On How To Deal With Difficult Situations At Work

This tutorial will walk you through some difficult situations that you may have to face at work and teach you some handy Practical Tips which you can use to manage them.

Manage Difficult Situations With Team Members

Scenario 1:

You can promote only one out of several best candidates in your team.

If you approach this exercise rationally and fairly then the problem will not be as whom to promote, but how to do it without demoralizing the team, during the selection process and after promotion as well.

The first thing to do is to advertise the post internally and invite all the candidates to apply. This ensures that no one feels that they have been overlooked, or they weren’t considered for the post. It may seem to be inviting trouble, but in fact, it means that everyone will be able to see that the process is fair.

It would generally be wise to advertise the position externally as well. The extra candidates will decrease the sense of competition within the team, and whoever will get the job will be greeted.

Now make sure that the selection procedure is wisely fair and open so that your team can see how fair it is. Don’t cut angles, if all your applicants are internal, then luxury the process as formally as you would do in any selection procedure.

Don’t select until all your internal applicants are shortlisted. It drags out the process, and indeed those who fail to make the shortlist will feel frightful.

Once you have informed the successful applicant that he/she has got the job, make a call to all the others individually and let them know that they’ve been unsuccessful. Don’t tell them individually about who has got it.

Once they’ve digested this, call the whole team together including those who weren’t the applicants for the post – and announce the promotion (they might have known by now anyway, but that’s not the point). Say how robust the applicants were, and how much you valued the amount of awareness in the job.

Then say that you understand it’s been a hard situation, but you’re sure that you can count on everyone, to support the successful candidate.

Once the person joins the new post, keep an observant eye to make sure that everyone else is working easily with him/her. If there are any teething problems, talk to the person and help, to iron out the problems they have.

Scenario 2:

One of your best staff is threatening to leave the company.

If you want to keep your employees, you will have to do something to satisfy them. So, what can you do? Well, if they’re alarming then he/she must be unhappy with things as they are. So if they haven’t told you yet, ask them what they want.

It could be anything such as:

  1. More money
  2. More responsibility
  3. Promotion
  4. Better working conditions or hours
  5. Or something else.

If you don’t ask them, then you will not know.

Now ask yourself a very simple question ‘Are they worth what they’re asking for?’ If they are, give it to them (you may be able to negotiate them down a bit – they’re probably expecting that).

If they’re not worth it then let them go. But what if you can’t give them what they want? Most people aren’t stupid – they can see what is possible and what isn’t. If budgets are compact then they can see that rise is out of the question. If there’s nowhere to go, of course, promotion is difficult.

A smart employee should be able to come up with innovative solutions for their interests. They may suggest a performance-related pay component or a better job title or a company car. People don’t threaten to leave unless they believe that you can give them what they want.

If the only thing that will do, is a pay rise or a promotion and that isn’t feasible then they won’t threaten. They will resign directly.

Scenario 3:

Your team is frightened about redundancy.

You presumably can’t prevent the repetition. So the way to keep this crisis to a minimum is to handle it sensitively and recognize that even those people who are not made redundant, will feel unprotected and next time it could even be them, after all.

  1. Keep everyone informed from the earliest possible stage. Don’t wait until you will have more updates. People will get wind of trouble anyways. Their imaginations will blow it up into something bigger than what is, so you are not going to protect them by keeping quiet.
  2. Don’t just tell them the basics. Tell them whatever they want to know. How many redundancies? From which department? What are the criteria for deciding who should go?
  3. Don’t give them guesses. If you haven’t got the information then you can try to find out, but don’t speculate. Whatever you say, will be taken as gospel.

Scenario 4:

You have several internal candidates for promotion but as a Test Manager, you want to give the job to an outsider.

You must give the job to the best applicant, whoever he/she is. There’s no point in inviting for applications from others if you aren’t going to consider them (also, this will be unfair to the applicants as well). So if your best candidate is an outsider, then don’t put off giving them a job by your fear about the team’s reaction.

Make sure that every member of the team can apply for the job on equal terms with others. This way, at least, they won’t feel that they’ve been forgotten or not given a chance to put their case across. When you’ve made your decision, talk to each internal applicant telling them face-to-face that they haven’t been successful this time.

Don’t be drawn to the question of ‘who has got the job’. Thank them for their application. And let them know that you’ll be happy to discuss ‘how they can develop their skills with an eye to future promotion’.

Call the whole team together, including those who didn’t apply for the promotion, and tell them who has got the job. Make it clear that you were determined to be fair and this person turned out to be most suitable for the job. Remember to state that the standard of applications was very high and you appreciate everyone’s hard work.

Let the team know that you realize this as a potentially tricky situation. Remind them that it is you who made the decision and the successful candidate is unaware of the fact that there were several internal applicants. So he/she deserves to be welcomed and supported on arrival. This will indicate that you trust the team more.

Scenario 5:

One of your team members is dissatisfied at being passed over for promotion

You can minimize this problem by breaking the news to the person, in the right way in the first place. Be extremely gentle with him/her. Missing out on promotion is a huge blow to his/her ego. Also, this means that they don’t get the challenge/pay rise/job title, that they were hoping for.

If you still have problems, call the person for a meeting and talk to them about the reasons they missed out on the promotion.

You should:

  1. Be objective. Don’t give him/her, any hint of partiality towards the person who got the job. And make sure that you will give reasonable and objective reasons for not promoting this person. Concentrate on the reasons why he/she didn’t get the job instead of him/her how much better the other person was.
  2. Explain what you were looking for in the post. Tell that person on what measures you were refereeing to, by – the level of experience, specific skills, and qualifications, strengths, etc.
  3. Ask the person to measure himself/herself against each of these criteria. Help in identifying, which criteria they failed to encounter. If they distress, you should be able to give them tangible examples of past performance, which validates that they didn’t come up to the standard.

Scenario 6:

You get a team of people who are aggressive to you.

This can happen for any reason. Assuming your management style is not faulty, the reason is likely out of your control. Perhaps you’ve come from a part of the organization for which they are naturally antagonistic to, or maybe they particularly wanted someone else there.

Whatever may be the reason, how will you handle it?

The key is, don’t try to tackle the whole team at once. If you can win the trust of each team member individually then it won’t take too long that they collectively follow the suit. You still need to be firm and clear in your management, so don’t try to handle this by giving them lots of perks or by going too easy on them. This kind of tactic always fails.

Implement your natural style and be tough, when you need to be. But try to spend time, with each of your team members. So that they will know you better. Use opportunities such as business trips, demonstrations and so on to take your team along.

Scenario 7:

The team is very aggressive to Senior Management.

This is normally triggered by some hated event. And it can be very negative in the long run. It is the team leader’s job to motivate the team for loyalty to the organization. Joining the top management is an easy way.

But you will not be able to survive as a good team in an inferior company. You need the whole organization to succeed. But if the management’s decision is the bad one then you can’t convince your team that it’s good.

Then, What do you do?

  • Agree that it’s a bad decision.
  • Remind your team about the wider considerations that the Board or management should weigh up.
  • Point out the weak points in the decision that they wanted.
  • Compare your top management to your competitors’, pointing out how much better your own are.

Scenario 8:

Your team may work with outside Consultants or Auditors.

Outside consultants or auditors, drafted into the team can occasionally create a problem. The team may get worried and want to know why the team itself isn’t measured good enough to do the job. You need to make sure that the relationship with the outsiders is an easy one and doesn’t harm the self-esteem.

There are some steps that you can take to ease the condition.

  • Tell the team in advance that outsiders are coming, and the reason for that. Also, make it clear with the team how the outsiders will help them to achieve the goals.
  • Treat the outsiders in the same way as the team. If you’re taking the team to the pub for a lunch or drink, then call them along too. This, in turn, will help to make them comfortable with the team.

Scenario 9:

You need to guide your team for key changes.

The sort of big modification that makes your job hard, could be caused by mergers and takeovers, restructuring or new legislation. This affects the team’s working practices, relocation and so on. Some people love change and celebrate it. You need to make sure that these team members don’t either disparage the people who are not willing to change.

To start with, warn the team of impending changes as soon as possible and fill them in with all the details you can. Regardless of your isolated views, give a positive view of the changes and explain how they will profit the organization, the department and your team members.

You can involve them in taking decisions by holding team meetings and inviting comments, questions and suggestions. Inspire people to express their negative feelings and listen sympathetically.

They may resist the change as it is threatening their security because they know they are slow learners or they think it will make their role less important or their jobless inspiring.

Ask them to be very specific about their objections and then deal with each one individually. There can be some genuine drawbacks resulting from the changes, admit them but explain how they are more than offset by the benefits.

Scenario 10:

Your team is severely overloaded.

Teams can be overloaded because of unreasonable demands from the senior management or long-term absence of someone in the team because of illness, for a sabbatical, or on maternity leave.

Acknowledgment of the problem is vital here. Acknowledge that your team members are under a burden. Give them plenty of thanks and rewards.

There are things you can do to help them:

  • Be available. Yes, this is always important and especially here. It’s not just that people are working hard, but maybe they are doing their jobs, they are unaware of or at speeds they are not used to.
  • Be prepared to lower your values. Again, if people are trying to do more work in the same period then something may have to be given up. Accept that everything cannot be the same standards when the team is relatively relaxed.
  • Share the additional workload. If someone is away, say on maternity leave and you are sharing her tasks between the rests then take some of the work on yourself also. Or you could free someone else to do extra work, by releasing them from one of their regular tasks. But make sure it doesn’t mean a lot to them for status reasons or whatever.
  • Do something about the assignment if you can. Sometimes the pressure lasts for a fixed length of time. But sometimes it can go on open-endedly. Eventually, your words of sympathy and understanding will begin to sound hollow. And the team will start feeling that you keep telling them, they’re wonderful so that it will excuse you from ever having to do anything about the problem.

Scenario 11:

There’s a position clash within your team.

This can be a bit hard to deal with, as the result is that the team breaks into factions. Those factions will form around two important players of the team who have different goals for the team, different styles of working or different motivations for themselves.

This situation can only arise if both the people involved are pulling in different guidelines in some way. You need to relocate them to the team based on the needs and objectives. Begin by calling both the people together and facilitate while they discuss their differences.

The greatest risk in these circumstances will come if you are weak in the way in which you handle them. You will need to be firm with these two and tell them that the split in the team could not happen unless they are allowing it. Point out that the team is suffering because of the destruction.

If they are committed to the team they must smooth out their variances and work to reunite the team.

The most important question to address these people is, ‘What is the best way for the team to achieve the task?’ People will realize that success depends on the force of their personalities and not on the force of their influences.

If the situation has reached a dangerous point, or the people involved are not eager to co-operate then it may be necessary to point out that there is no place for them in the team.

Scenario 12:

Rumors and gossips are destructing confidence and performance.

The way to prevent gossip and rumor which is harmful to your team is to be open and authentic with them and communicate everything. Privacy is the breeding ground of rumor. Once your team knows that, if something were true, then you would have told them about it then they will be less motivated to believe dangerous gossip.

When the irregular gossip will slip, you need to call the person, you believe who is initiating or scattering it. If you’re not sure then take a guess – it won’t matter that much.

But remember, you should only be worried about work-related rumors. If your team wants to rumor about the fact that Mike’s marriage is breaking up, then that’s none of your business.

Once you have the person in your office make sure you:

  • Aren’t tough on them – treat it as though this could be useful information rather than mere gossip. After all, until you’ve discussed it with him/her you wouldn’t know if it is correct or not. For Example, say to them, ‘I understand that you’ve been passing on the update that the IT department may be relocating from Delhi to Bangalore. What can you tell me about it?’ Ask them to give you the details, where they heard it from, the evidence behind the information and so on.
  • Telephone the related people to confirm the story. Call the IT manager, For Example, and ask whether the team is moving. If the person with you did not initiate the story themselves, don’t give him a hard time – they’ll start feeling uncomfortable. And by the time you’ve finished talking to them, you may well have entrenched out the real offender.

Once your team discovers that this is how you respond to gossip, they will think again before they spread rumors in the future because no one wants to go through that kind of awkwardness.

Scenario 13:

You need to retain the team pleased through an office transfer.

Office transfer is something that most of the team leaders find incredibly annoying. A good team will handle the practical side of the move with a little trouble. The disruptive nature of the process is caused by status issues rather than the operative ones.

This is because some desks or offices are considered more important than others.

But the argument never admits this – it’s always conducted in operational terms: ‘I need to be near the car park to carry in containers of samples’ or ‘How can I conduct selection meetings in an open plan office?’ It’s rarely of any use, bringing the status subtext out into the open,etc., and people always reject it.

But if you are aware of it then you can often adjust it with some other status factor upwards. For Example, by putting the person’s name on the door, or by giving them their occupational card, a change of job title from ‘operator’ to ‘executive’ or something else that will calm them.

Consider the fact that status doesn’t float in mid-air, it should be comparative to the people around. So it may be the only reason, Mike isn’t pleased with the office you allocated him because he thinks that it isn’t as good as the one which is allocated to Kate, but he finds his role is equally important to Kate’s.

In this case, you can use the same approach. But if you give occupational cards or a new job title to Kate as well as Mike then you won’t achieve anything. Try to give these kinds of awards, and completely dissimilar status symbols from each other so that it will become hard for them to compare themselves.

Which is better, a plusher office or a better-sounding job title? Hard to say really. Hopefully, Mike and Kate will find it hard to say too.

These are some tough situations that you might come across during your tenure as a team manager. These tips will help you handle them smartly without disappointing your team members.

Hope you enjoyed this interesting article on team management skills!!

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