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How to Manage an Uncooperative Team: Penny Schiffer from

Penny Schiffer, CEO & Co-founder of talks about her experience in managing a difficult team.


So my problem was when I took over a team in my former career at the corporate that I had 12 people and there were a lot of things not going right. Some people were spending too much money, some people were not even coming to the office. There were some unrealistic expectations about what to do. It was a complete mess and I was completely overwhelmed and didn't know where to start.

My creative solution was to set better priorities by finding out what are the problems that I need to solve immediately versus what are the problems that I'm not happy about and I think I need to tackle them, but not right now. For example, the spending of money was obviously bothering me, but it would not create right now more problems. So I should focus more on the morale and making the team come together first and then I should go and tackle the smaller problems. So it helped me prioritise.


I think it's very important to work cross-functional. Or, at least I think if you are a leader who can work cross-functional you can really help get things to reality. With cross-functional I mean to let's say bridge from the business problem to the technology as much as you can. Even if you don't have this technical background you should try to make yourself familiar and find advisors and find a way to not just stop and say okay this is not my field I can't do it but try to become knowledgeable. There are very few translators who can really bridge between even different technical teams or the business and the technology.

In case you want to have a family or will have a family this is not going to be easy if you keep working. I think it's important to keep the balance and, you know, try to be realistic about what you can be and what you can do. You will not become a marathon runner and you will not have an hour per day to focus on duty things, and the household will probably be a mess. Does it matter? I don't think so, but if you keep thinking that this is what you need to be and that you can have it all, no you can't; you can have a lot but you cannot have it all. And if you come to peace with this I think it's much more healthy and you will enjoy it more.

A third piece of advice is, everybody says so, but try to find a balance to not get overworked too much or too often, and if you see the signs of you losing attention or finding it harder to concentrate then don't wait too long. Because if you go through a very drastic burnout situation it can easily take you a year or two to recover and I don't think this is worth it, so try to find the signs earlier. Most people go through a period like this but if you can stop it at a medium level your time to recover will be much shorter.

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