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Are You Sure You Have a People Problem? Or is the Problem with the Situation?

Sometimes we assume we have a people problem when really we have a problem with a particular situation within the company. Before we try to “fix” the people problem we think we have, do a bit of research! Have a conversation with the people involved to understand the issue from their perspective.

As an example, one of my clients assumed that a group of employees in one of the departments were not good at their job and would likely have to be replaced. In discussing the situation with the client, he told me that they did well in the past but just can’t seem to do the job any longer. Seemed odd to me. How does a group of employees (4 of them) all of a sudden not be competent at doing their jobs? I asked if I could talk with them to better understand the situation. Long story short, the conversation revealed that the job had changed but the processes have not! Hence, they could no longer effectively work within the required processes to do the job and that was affecting their performance. Bottom line – the problem wasn’t the people; the problem was the situation (the processes they were required to work with).

Before we assume a people problem, look closely at the situation. Are there changes that can be made to enable the people to be more effective?