Curt Fowler | Four Steps to Fix Your People Problems

| June 8, 2018

Curt Fowler | Fowler & Company | Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey

Everyone in leadership struggles to find, keep and motivate great employees. It is the toughest and most important part of a leader’s job. Today I want to focus on how to keep and motivate the great employees you do have.

No matter how hard you try to create the perfect workplace people problems will arise. Below are the four steps you must take to fix the problem for good.

1 – Take Responsibility – We all love to complain about how hard it is to attract, retain and motivate talented people. When we start complaining about our current workforce we often forget who hired them and trained them. If it wasn’t you, was it someone you hired and trained? Keep following the trail and responsibility will eventually land on you, the senior leader. Understanding where the blame lies will allow you to focus your energies on fixing the problem instead of talking about it.

2 – Find the Root – We spend too much of our time dealing with the symptoms of dysfunction in our organizations. We rarely take the time and effort necessary to determine what started the problem in the first place. Are you letting the wrong people into the organization? Are you hiring good people, but not training them well? Are your incentives not aligning your people with the organizations’ goals?

If you can trace the symptoms back to the root cause, you are ready for the next step.

3 – Fix It – Sounds simple, huh? It might not be easy, but the solution will be apparent if you accomplished task number two and know the root cause. G.K. Chesterton was right when he stated, “It’s not that they can’t see the solution. They can’t see the problem.”

The fix might require training or a change to a key process. The fix might be getting the right person in the right seat. Too often, we are quick to try to replace the person when training or process is the true problem. Don’t make that mistake. It will destroy your culture.

When should you make a people change? There are several good reasons to make a people change.

1 – The person is not working in their strengths and passions. Not working in your strengths frustrates the team member and those working with them.

2 – The team member is unable to grasp the skills required to perform the job. Energy and enthusiasm will generally overcome a skills deficit, but we are all wired to be better at different things.

3 – If the problem is a character problem the team member must have the humility to recognize the problem and be a part of the solution. We all make mistakes. If the team member is willing to recognize, learn and grow from the mistake that person will likely be an outstanding long-term member of your team. If they cannot humbly learn and grow from a character misstep they must go.

4 – Find Them a Better Home – If a person meets any of the three criteria above, you need to help them find a position that will be a better fit. If they have great character, it can be an internal position. If you do not have an internal position that fits or one you can create, you need to help them find that fit somewhere else.

Being known as a boss or employer that helps their people find work that utilizes their strengths and passions is a great thing. It will keep your current employees engaged and attract great people to you.

Take responsibility, find the root cause and you will be on your way to fixing your people problems.

Your people and your culture are the greatest competitive advantages you can ever develop. Make the time to create long-term fixes to your people problems and your business will reap the rewards.

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Curt Fowler is President of Fowler & Company and Director at Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey . He is dedicated to helping leaders create and achieve a compelling vision for their organization. He is a syndicated business writer, keynote speaker and has an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School. He is also a CPA and a pretty good guy as defined by his wife and four children.

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