How to Win Back an Alienated Team

“How you manage your team either engages or alienates them.” Jeannette Seibly

Alienating your team can happen whether you are a new boss/leader or not. It often happens when you make decisions that are not in the team’s best interests or make changes that are not perceived to be in their best interests.

Emily was a new boss and wanted to engage her team. She immediately began holding team meetings and had each person share what they were doing. This change alienated the team since the previous boss wasn’t interested in team development. At first, the team didn’t share or shared inappropriately. Then, after she talked with them individually and as a team about why sharing their individual progress supported the team as a whole, they learned to value this time together and support and learn from one another.

When alienation happens, waiting them out is not the right approach! It is best to take proactive action to win the team back as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get on the right track.

Signs a team member or team has been alienated:

  • Missed work assignments
  • Poor attitude when assigning work (“Oh! Whatever!”)
  • Unwilling to improve performance
  • Negative team vibe (be careful with this one – the issue may not be you)
  • Talking with others about you (upset, frustrated)
  • Team turnover
  • Unable to make eye contact
  • They tell you what you want to hear
  • There are factions, silos, and cliques at work against you

Now address “why” you alienated them:

  • Made an unpopular decision
  • Fired or removed a team member, especially if the person is well-liked
  • Micromanaged them
  • Used microaggressions or other offensive behaviors
  • Allowed your ego to get in the way and took credit for their work
  • Made changes that impact them or another group without their knowledge

8 Ways to Get Your Alienated Team Back on Track

  1. Breathe, Listen, and Be Present. What is the real issue? Ask! Don’t accept the first response! Go around the team several times until the truth comes out! You cannot change what happens moving forward without the truth! Be patient. This can take time, but it is well worth the effort.
  2. Your apology needs to be genuine. Share how you’ll make changes in the future and follow through on this commitment. This is especially important if you make a mistake that hurts the team or someone they care about.
  3. Talk Straight. It builds trust! There will be times when you need to make unpopular decisions or rock the boat. It’s part of your job description to talk it out with team members, customers, and the company. Share the facts!
  4. Set Expectations. Acknowledge the past and why there is a need to make changes. Keep the new expectation short and straightforward. For example, all meetings will start right on time and end on time, too. Now, follow through!
  5. Don’t Defend. Stating your position repeatedly, telling people how they feel, or belittling others will not win them back! Remember, listen.
  6. Assign Based on Strengths. Avoid favoritism or selecting the person who always raises their hand to take on tasks. Get to know your people and assign projects, assignments, and other activities based on strengths and what the person enjoys doing and is good at. If someone wants to learn a new skill (e.g., how to manage a budget), partner them with a good teacher.
  7. Ask for Input. Slow down. Ask for their ideas, thoughts, and concerns before making changes (especially if you’re a new boss/leader). Write these down so everyone can see them. Be prepared to address them point-by-point before and after the decision has been made.
  8. Meet 1:1. Talking with each team member alone can also provide insights that the team would frown on if shared openly at a team meeting. Remember confidentiality! Or you’ll alienate the team even more!
  9. Master These 8 Ways … To get your alienated team back on track quicker, hire an executive coach. Attempting to implement these on your own can be overwhelming, or you may miss nuances that your executive coach can see.

©Jeannette Seibly 2024 All Rights Reserved

Are you using your talents effectively? Many of us are not! Click Here for a Free Download on how to use your talents and enjoy a rewarding career!

Jeannette Seibly is a Talent Advisor/Leadership Results Coach with over 31 years of practical experience guiding leaders and bosses to improve their hiring, coaching, and managing practices and produce amazing results! And yes, achieving business success always starts with having the right people in the right jobs! She has been an Authorized PXT Select® Partner for over 32 years. Contact Jeannette to learn more about these state-of-the-art job-fit assessment tools or how to coach and manage your people to achieve incredible results.

A note from Jeannette: Do you sense there is something off with your team? Have you considered that you are the cause of the alienation? Let’s talk before you lose your team, effectiveness, and customers! Contact me!

Now is the time to get into focused action! Are there days you dread doing what is needed to manage your people, projects, and team’s financial performance? You’re not alone! Everyone has those days! But continuing to hide behind excuses only hurts you and your future promotability. I have extensive experience and wisdom guiding bosses and leaders to hire, coach, and manage their teams successfully – this includes getting you out of the way and working with and through people effectively to achieve the results required. Contact me to learn more about my in-depth, one-on-one, customized coaching programs.

Are you using your talents effectively? Many of us are not! Click Here for a Free Download on how to use your talents and enjoy a rewarding career!


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