Understanding Problems: Not All Have Solutions
People, personnel, staff, human resources: they’re the largest, most expensive single asset for any organization – and often the biggest problem. So what are the best ways to approach the challenges of managing staff?
Well-worn methods of identifying problems include SWOT analysis on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; or take Rudyard Kipling’s “six honest serving men” approach: who, where, what, when, how and why.
The best place to start is, paradoxically, the end. What outcome do you want? Use Edward De Bono’s hats to assess problems from different angles. “Funneling”, or the “Five Why” technique, is another option. Processes are examined to establish where the problem happens. Questions establish why the problem happened, some possible resolution methods and any lessons learned. In the “helicopter approach” you examine how the situation affects the whole organization.
People problems – personality clashes or something more serious?
Sometimes, your people problem is simply a personality clash. You may need to move team members to a different project, change working patterns, confront the individual, or arrange conflict resolution training. Nobody past high-school age expects to be bosom buddies with everyone, but personality clashes between one individual and many others can be a warning sign.
Sometimes individuals have outgrown their job and need more challenge; or, conversely, priorities may have changed, and a less stressful role would help. There is no firm answer to resolving people problems - every individual situation is different.
Problems with pay – how else can you motivate staff?
All developed countries are experiencing unprecedented levels of austerity and change. Money is not the only reason to work, but for many, a particularly difficult development is that salaries have stagnated while the cost of living has increased. This is in stark contrast to the boom years, when jobs were abundant and salaries and credit expansive.
Current budgets often make salary increases impossible. So what other options are there to help motivate staff and minimize pay-related problems? Consider improved health cover, discount vouchers or schemes, subsidized season tickets, share options, flexible working or working from home, development opportunities, or subsidized training. Some may carry tax incentives for the organization.
Performance problems – how HR can help
Superficially, performance problems are especially difficult to resolve, so your organization needs clear policies. Is there a clear person specification and job description? Is your employee performing at an appropriate level? Is there a training need, particularly if job roles have increased in scope following organizational downsizing?
Whatever solution you find, you must ensure solutions are fair. This does not mean treating everyone the same all the time, but it does mean treating staff in line with organizational policies.
Avoiding HR problems
Currently, many organizations are rewriting, deleting or down banding jobs. It can be very tempting to move displaced staff into any vacant role. In theory, this should save considerable amounts of money. This approach can, however, lead to reduced staff engagement from displaced employees and resentment from staff who may have been a better “fit”. Many HR problems can be avoided by ensuring the best person is hired or allocated in the first place – a great way for HR to show their value.
Jose Terrier is the Online Marketing Director at Business Financial Services, a leader in the specialty finance industry. Since 2002, Business Financial Services has provided business financing solutions including small business loans and merchant cash advances to business owners in the US. Jose writes about business financing, online marketing, SEO, social media, and other topics relevant to small business owners.