struggling at work

How do you help your team when they are struggling?

All teams hit snags from time to time. You might be racing along at a breakneck pace, only to seemingly hit a brick wall with your team. What can you do to get through those sticking points, and continue to achieve your goals?

How do you help your team when they are struggling?

As a manager or team leader, some of your most important and most trying moments will be when your team is struggling. These may not be the moments we talk about with friends, or receive workplace awards for, but they are the moments that can make or break a team.

The importance of good management

A recent Gallup poll indicated that 75% of employees who leave their jobs, do so due to a manager, leader, or boss of some kind. That makes it far-and-away the most prevalent reason for leaving a job. Managers who can bridge the gap, and bring teams through difficult times, will not only achieve better results, but will create loyal, experienced teams.

When things are going right…

It’s easy to maintain healthy work relationships, and positive team performance, when things are going well. When everything seems to be falling into place, and everyone is hitting their targets, being a manager is fun.

I used to love running teams and giving my colleagues the opportunities they needed to grow and develop—allowing my team members to define their careers and their goals. Seeing your team flourish, and being there to support them is one of the highlights of managing a team.

When things are going wrong…

This isn’t always the case though. There are times when your team, or specific members of your team, will struggle. There are countless reasons why this might happen—industry or economy-related woes; personal problems; conflict in the workplace. When your team is having a tough time, feeling unhappy or unsuccessful, the best managers really shine.

It’s not only a managerial skill-set that helps in these situations. It’s also the human-to-human connection that we have with our colleagues. The most effective managers can connect with their coworkers personally, and can perceive when things aren’t going well. Stay aware of how your team members are doing, so that you can be there to help when things are tough.

Stick to the basics

In any situation, making time, actively listening, and asking thoughtful, purposeful questions are the keys to maintaining a good relationship with your colleagues. When you see someone who is struggling with their workload, or having other trouble in the workplace, make the time to listen to them.

It’s our duty as managers and leaders to ensure that our team is having a positive experience, and to provide reasonable accommodations when needed. When you are dealing with unhappy or unfulfilled employees, making the time to understand them is a huge first step. Having an audience and being heard are important factors on their own.

Listen and Learn

Being able to verbalise your anxieties and negative feelings can help clear your mind and allow you to get back to work. But, as a manager, it’s your duty to take that information, and use it to improve your workplace. Consider what policies or practices could be altered to provide a better experience to your employees. Be open to suggestion, and forthcoming with your own ideas. Just knowing that someone is working to help you is enough to raise morale tremendously. Managers who go out of their way for their employees, create loyal, happy teams.

One team that I worked with recently was under stress because one of their team members was caring for an elderly relative. She was under a lot of pressure to commute to and from work, while still having enough time to care for her relative. The organisation that this team is a part of took action, and changed their policy with regards to working from home. As a result, this team can function more effectively, with this member being able to work from home more regularly.

Don’t get caught up in busy

When we’re struggling, and fighting just to keep our heads above water, it can be difficult to take a step back and analyse what’s happening around us. This is truly unfortunate, because these are the times when it’s most important to.

Always remind yourself to take a moment away from the busy business, to connect person-to-person. No matter what field you work in, and no matter what happens with your team, we are in the business of people and relationships. Keep your eyes and ears open, and be ready to listen.


Managing successful teams isn’t just about having great quarters, and beating your annual quotas. It’s also about being able to pull through the difficult times, build strong bonds with your colleagues, and have positive workplace relationships. By taking the time to listen, ask questions, and make positive changes, we can continue to improve our workplaces for ourselves and our teams.

Are you looking to build your expertise as a manager or team leader? Reach out today for a free consultation to get yourself pointed in the right direction!