It’s a recurring story: Your business is doing great, you’re starting to grow and your customers are happy.

Then one day, someone on your team hands in their resignation. No biggie, you say good luck to them and move on.

Then the next day, there are customer complaints and employee problems start to escalate. Before you know it, you’ve lost half your team and your sales are plummeting. What’s happened?

You’ve probably grown too fast without thinking of the repercussions.

Maybe it’s time to start troubleshooting your team, figure out how to improve their effectiveness, stop the downward spiral and turn this into a win.

Troubleshooting 101

When troubleshooting your team, you want to start by listening. Removing the personal part — including yourself — will help you get to the heart of the matter objectively. Then, you can start investigating the root of your employee problems.

You wouldn’t fix a tire by taking apart the whole car. You need to discover the source of the problem, and you can only do this by listening.

Understanding your employee problems is about putting aside ego and taking note of their issues. Sometimes, the issue could be you, and that’s OK.

You’re here to fix the problem, not to deny it.

Troubleshoot: Systems

Sometimes, it’s not even people who are the problem, but the systems around them.

Overcomplicated IT, outdated software, overly intrusive or time-consuming documentation — all of these can point to broken systems that eventually break teams.

Symptoms:

  • Your staff bring up “new software” often.
  • Your team’s compliance on paperwork is dismal.
  • You hear groans when asking someone to use a particular system.

Solution: Form a think tank of team members who use this system regularly. Listen and take note of their issues. Figure out how to reach a compromise, if possible — otherwise, be open to replacing the system.

Employees will always be more important than the systems they use, so in the long run, it’s more valuable to overhaul a system than overhaul a team.

(If your problem is your CRM, you might want to think about replacing that. too.)

Troubleshoot: Trust

Sometimes, the problem is in trust. If your business changes have negatively impacted some employees who never thought they’d be let go, then it’s likely you’ve lost some trust with the remaining team.

Symptoms:

  • People stop speaking up during meetings.
  • Staff not calling in sick when they should.
  • Stressed-out or overworked employees.

Solution: Be honest. Confess if you’ve stuffed something up. Coming clean about what’s happened may work to communicate the decisions you’ve made, and help ease some of the mistrust that’s been placed on you and your business.

Communication with employees is always a key to solving issues, and this will be a common troubleshooting solution moving forward.

Troubleshoot: Avoidance of Accountability

If your business has been doing well and suddenly it’s taking a dive in Google Reviews or getting bad comments left on social posts, then it might be an issue of avoidance of accountability or inattention to results.

This can creep up in multiple ways — one is through sudden team changes and restructure, meaning people have lost their role clarity. Or in the case of new management, employees are unhappy with the new boss.

Symptoms:

  • Your business receives bad reviews and experiences dropping sales.
  • Hidden or removed comments.
  • Employees stop “going the extra mile” for customers.
  • Employees blame bad sales on “the environment.”

Solution: Discover whether it’s a problem with role clarity or management. Listen to your staff (away from their manager) to discover what the issue is. Management changes are not normally smooth processes and what once was a passionate worker is now a disgruntled employee.

Again, like in Trust above, this all comes down to communication, and you’ll have to listen a lot here. Figure out the root of the problem and proceed from there.

Finally, Don’t Just Listen — Act!

It’s all well and good to hear what your employees have to say. But all goodwill be lost if you don’t apply action to any of their solutions.

Make sure you draw out a plan that is easily accessed by everyone. The plan should be tactical and list all the changes that are going to be made.

For changes that will take a lot longer to implement, create a process to provide routine updates with employees to keep them in the loop. Even if there are no changes, the fact that you’re regularly giving them updates on the matter will help them trust that it’s still at the forefront of your mind.

Successfully troubleshooting your team — and actioning changes — will not only help restore your business to full effectiveness but give rise to a whole new culture of trust, engagement and passion.

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