Five Ways to Wake up Your Team

How does your team look these days? Are team members dragging their feet, awaiting a vacation or a day off? Has the routine and workload gotten the better of everyone? Maybe the direction the team is following doesn’t seem to make a lot a sense or support the overall organizational goals. Whatever is happening, it may be time for a shake-up or wake-up. But who will lead the charge to disrupt or challenge the team?

Working with teams for many years, I often hear someone complain about how dysfunctional their team is. Finger pointing is often the way a team communicates when deadlines are missed and team members are frustrated. It’s always someone else’s fault for customer concerns. It’s so easy to blame the person sitting in the cubicle next to us.

Instead of pointing fingers, leaders raise their hands to help.

Do you want to know a secret about feeling more fulfilled in your job and leadership? Swap out finger pointing and blame for leading the charge to change. If you really want to be a disruptor, then disrupt by leading.

Five leadership approaches to wake-up a team:


Before taking any action or deciding on any change, lead by figuring out what is actually happening and what needs to be revamped. If we are not clear on what the issues are, we will never be clear on a solution or direction. Here are some ways to research your information:

  • Create a small task force to brainstorm why the team is dragging
  • Decide what areas are a priority to address
  • Make sure to discuss what success will look like
  • Make a list of additional team members or individuals from other departments to interview

    Whether on site or through a videoconference, pull the entire team together to share the task force’s findings. Ask for additional feedback with specifics. There may be facts the task force missed. Try to get a consensus of what is happening and how the team can regroup to recharge. Getting buy-in is so important because then all team members will feel part of the solution.


    The most important strategy for a leader working towards a change is to keep an open mindset and remind others to hear the different perspectives offered. If team members shut down the ideas of others before giving them a chance to share, commitment will diminish.

    To wake up a dragging team, bring different perspectives together.


    Visuals can help people see things more clearly.

  • When leaders physically put ideas and goals on a whiteboard or flip chart or document, they will help clarify the team’s choices.
  • Color graphics can help too because people are drawn to different colors and textures.
  • Then place the team’s new direction and goals in high visibility places all around the offices or facilities. When we have our goals and commitments front and center we are reminded of our new joint path.

    The tricky part for leaders to ensure a successful change is to follow-up with the team in a month or whatever timeframe appropriate. Check in to see how the changes are working. Ask team members if they are feeling more energized or fulfilled with the new goals. Sometimes a shake-up needs some tweaks as things may change while integrating the new goals and vision.

    What approaches have worked for you in leading a team wake-up?