Do you have a people problem?

Your people are your biggest asset – they can also be your biggest problem too. Lack of employee engagement, high absence, high attrition rates and high indirect labour costs are obvious indicators that something is going wrong, but there are more subtle indicators too.

Unfortunately, these indicators often go unnoticed or are quickly dismissed by managers who view problems from an operational perspective instead of a people perspective.

If something isn’t working, it’s all too easy to assume there is a problem with the system or process. New systems or processes are then put in place to fix the problem. There might be an initial flurry of improvement, but it quickly becomes apparent that the change isn’t sustainable, and the results don’t improve long-term.

If this sounds familiar, then you might find that the problem is not with your systems and processes, the problem is that your people aren’t engaged with the systems and processes. This could be down to a lack of skill or will or both.

If you’re noticing any of the following issues, it’s likely you are experiencing a people problem:

• Lack of engagement and empowerment
• Failure to follow process and use the systems designed to help
• Conflicting ideas on how the operation works
• Mistakes, errors and fire-fighting
• Lack of clarity over roles and responsibilities
• Managers working at the wrong level to fill gaps
• Lack of accountability and poor communication

If you think you have a people problem in your organisation, here are the five key areas you should look at first.

Team dynamics

How functional and aligned are your senior leadership team? Do they work well together?

It’s vital that your senior leadership team is aligned, working towards the same vision with the same values. If your leaders are pulling in different directions, focused only on what they need to do today, not the long-term strategy, then this will impact the culture throughout the entire company.


Many organisations promote internally, based on time served rather than competency. They often forget to give the required skills to the workforce, and as such, there are excessive layers of management, personnel working at wrong levels, and lack of clarity over roles. Combined with ineffective succession planning, ineffective performance reviews, ineffective personal development plans and ineffective recruitment strategy, the result is chaos.

Competencies should be aligned to roles and responsibilities, to job functions, and most importantly, to the needs of the organisation. Employees should have the methods and skills required to carry out all responsibilities to the prescribed standard, consistently and on time.

Having a clear understanding of core competencies allows you to develop training programmes that bridge the gaps and ensure all personnel have the necessary skills to drive the business forward.


One of the biggest challenges is to attract, develop and retain a motivated workforce who have the necessary skills and enthusiasm to ensure your business objectives are met.

Look at the culture within your workplace. Are the employees just working to collect a wage, or are they engaged with the vision and values of your company?

Every member of staff should understand their role, responsibilities and targets. They should also feel valued and understand the role they play in the success of the organisation.

Roles & responsibilities

When roles and responsibilities aren’t clearly defined, you often find issues with time management and managers working at the wrong level to fill gaps. Every employee needs to know their roles and responsibilities, understand their targets and know what they will be held accountable for.

Operational improvement

Many organisations invest in continuous improvement programmes and train managers on methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma, then fail to implement the tools and strategies effectively.

Productivity gains are not found in the boardroom; they are delivered where the work is carried out, where implementing the tools and techniques has the most impact on profitability, skills and competencies. The tools and methodologies must be embedded throughout the entire organisation as an ongoing process.

Fixing your people problem

Once you’ve investigated the five areas outlined above, you’ll be able to see more clearly what is causing the inefficiencies in your business. Investing in your people development will allow your business to be driven from the bottom up, resulting in greater engagement and increased success.

If you need help fixing a people problem or you want to improve your employee engagement, company culture and training and development programmes, Chasm can help.

At Chasm, we are focused on teaching people what they need to know, rather than just teaching them what we know. What works for one business might not work for another, and your people development should support your operational development. We work with you to understand how your business operates so we can deliver the services you actually need.

Book a call with one of our consultants to find out more.

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