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  • Writer's pictureWiser Working

Help! My Team Cannot Cope Anymore!

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

When team leaders recognise that their team is struggling to cope, they naturally feel a sense of responsibility to do something about it. They can see that their people are tired and that the team performance is inconsistent. Work that was previously fun, is now just hard work.

In reality, it is unrealistic for any team leader to know how to support the complexity of each team members personal lives and to fully shield them from the demands of their team roles. Remote working also makes it much harder for team leaders to fully know how their team members are doing.

What Can Team Leaders Do?

Our organisation provides team building activities for leaders who are faced with this dilemma on a daily basis. Below, we offer some useful ideas. Any of these team building activities should help reduce your own leadership stress levels and also help you to build a resilient team.

1. Get Help. If the team or individuals within the team are overwhelmed, don’t try to go it alone. Recognise your limits and know that if you really want to help, you will most likely need some support either from inside or outside your organisation. There may be an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) already in place to offer counselling for individuals who are most at risk. Alternatively, there are plenty of coaching providers available.

2. Include stress analysis as part of your team building activity. This helps individuals understand the daily stress triggers that might be taking their toll, and provide useful insights into activities that can enhance their resilience to stress. At Wiser Working, we favour the proven Firstbeat tool, which involves each person wearing a heart monitor for 3 days to track their stress, activity and sleep. Each participant receives a confidential debrief of their results which can be very insightful and life changing. For example, several participants have seen that their late-evening gym workouts were causing them to have poor sleep. Alcohol use can also have a similar effect.

3. Bring the team together to own the issue. You can plan a team building event that tackles the issue of overwhelm head on. Your team will thank you for acknowledging the issue and for trusting them to co-create new solutions with you. You may feel equipped to run this session alone but having a skilled facilitator can make a big difference. Prior to the event, this facilitator can check in with each team member (30 minute calls are usually sufficient) to gather their concerns on a confidential basis. The highlights can be fed back to you so you know what the key areas of concern are.

4. Identify quick wins to make your team workload more bearable. This is something that can form a key part of your team building activity. Using the collective intelligence of the team, you will be able to generate many great solutions. It is also energising for the group. A simple example of quick-win could be a team commitment to not send emails after 6pm for example. Another one is to reduce the length of your team priority list. Please see our separate article on this.

5. Become a better negotiator! That’s correct. In many cases the team is struggling because you may have over-committed on their behalf. You may need to renegotiate the team’s current commitments with stakeholders or clients to give them some breathing space. Additionally, you may need to be more vigilant when taking on new commitments.

Being a team leader can be challenging due to many reasons beyond the leaders control. By using some of the creative team building activities such as those outlined above, leaders and their teams can take much more control over the way they work and improve their results.

Wiser Working helps leaders with the issues mentioned here. If you lead a team that is struggling to perform under pressure and require some support, please contact us at;


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