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Been dealt a poor hand? Working with what you’ve got

He needs help. Hopeless young beard man with adhesive note on his forehead leaning at the desk and keeping eyes closed while sitting at his working place in office

Inheritance can be a tricky business.  You may have inherited a team you don’t get along with.  You may be lacking some key resources for your job, or you may be struggling to get along with a difficult boss.  Whatever your current role gave you, it’s time to stop feeling sorry and start working with what you’ve got.

1. Your team

Does your heart sink when you look at your team? They may be de-motivated or lacking in the skills you’d ideally want. Happily, this situation is reversible. With some straightforward steps, you can create the high-performing team you need.  Consider:

  • SMART objectives

Have a clear view of what you need to achieve as a team and give each person SMART objectives. This will help you to track how you’re progressing towards achieving your goals, and which areas may need a little more support. It will give your team a new focus and a chance to do things that will lead to a feeling of personal success.

  • Inspire

Invest time with people to understand their aspirations. Then help them to see the link between their objectives and the personal reward (such as money, recognition, or promotion) that they could achieve.

  • Feedback

Be fair, frequent and consistent in your feedback. Where team members have done well, praise them publically. Where they have made mistakes, point them out clearly, helping them to understand their cause, and, most importantly, how to prevent it happening again.

2. Your resources

And what about your environment? Smart offices with cool furniture and cappuccino machines are lovely. But, they are not in any way integral to success. Similarly, the latest shiny technology or amazingly creative marketing literature can give everyone a lift. However, it’s not going to increase revenues or profit.

Make the environment that you have clean, tidy and efficient. If there is equipment that is genuinely impacting productivity, fight hard to get it replaced. Other than that, focus on the things that will genuinely drive success for the business.

3. Your boss

A great boss is inspirational and can provide support and guidance that makes your job easier and more enjoyable. However, if you don’t have such a boss, you need to work differently.

Firstly, trust yourself.  You’ve been given your position because others trust you to lead your team well and make good judgments. Have the courage of your (and their) convictions, and be independent.

Keep your boss informed. Be pro-active. Arrange for a short meeting at least fortnightly and report on what you’ve done and what you plan to do.

4. Your products

Who wouldn’t want to be promoting the very best products and services? You’d think that by having the best products, success would be guaranteed. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

It’s what you do with your products that will most influence your levels of success. Some questions to consider include:

  • what are your Unique Selling Points (USPs)?
  • what are the key benefits of your USPs?
  • which audience would most value your particular USPs?
  • what value do they give them?

The answers to these questions, will give you the strategy you need to create success for your products and for yourself.

As a manager you have the ability to create success or failure. A bad workman blames his tools.  Avoid blame and, instead, embrace what you’ve inherited. It might just be the start of something.

About the author:

Heather Foley is a consultant at, a UK-based HR consultancy and technology company.