Question Based on the information about how to handle strained relationships among team members, how might you handle this stress?
There are two issues that are difficult for case managers to address, especially when case managers coordinate the team and do not supervise the team members. In fact, many of the team members may work from another department or another agency or organization. One issue, work performance, occurs when a member of the group or team does not contribute quality work, meet expected deadlines in a timely manner, and/or fails to communicate or miscommunicates with team members or the team as a whole. Another issue that threatens the quality of the work and may undermine the team and agency occurs when a team member acts unethically. The suggestions we provide to address both of these issues require, we believe, similar approaches.
An individual case manager’s specific response may vary depending on his or her leadership responsibilities. For instance, in teams with a designated leader, addressing difficult issues is often viewed as the leader’s responsibility. In more democratic groups, where the responsibility for the group is shared, it remains the group members’ responsibility to address the issues.
As a team, establish ground rules about how to address difficult issues It is helpful if teams have previously developed a set of procedures or agreements to use when issues arise.
Issues receive immediate attention When issues arise, they need to be addressed as quickly as possible or a member of the team may act in an unethical way. The work performance of the team depends on tackling problems. It is best to address work-related issues as quickly as possible.
Discuss issues in private When there is a need to discuss performance with a team member, it is preferably done face-to-face and in private.
Be clear Be clear when discussing poor, unprofessional, or unethical performance and describing observable behaviors and patterns of behaviors or outcomes. These may include behaviors that indicate unhelpful attitudes, a lack of knowledge or skill, or poor or inappropriate work.
Allow feedback Once the team member is clear about the issues, provide an opportunity to explore any misconceptions, misunderstandings, or explanations.
Focus on the future Unless the action is egregious, focus on what supports the team member needs to demonstrate quality work. Identify what behavior is causing the employee to underperform.
Gain commitments from the team member Work with the team member to create a plan of improvement and ask for a commitment to the plan.
Follow-up As with any plan, there needs to be a time when the team member and the supervisor meet to evaluate the team member’s progress.