Most people are problem-solvers by nature. I know I am. Show me a problem, and I will find a way to fix it. But before I do, I dig, then I dig, then I dig some more. It’s a rare situation when the real problem is identified up front. Most of what people talk about, complain about, and go about solving are symptoms of the real problem. You can treat those symptoms all you want but they will continue to recur until you find and fix the underlying cause.
Let me explain.
Let’s say Business Owner X has a big problems. The problems are with the sales team. High turnover, unhappy customers, bad attitudes, and low team productivity. This has been going for a year or so. Wow, that’s not good. Sounds like the team needs some help. The most obvious answer is that this Business Owner X needs BETTER PEOPLE.
Maybe, maybe not.
Here’s where the digging comes in. You say “tell you more”. Business Owner X says that the team doesn’t work together, there is no cohesiveness, and in turn the bad attitudes are negatively affecting the customers and productivity.
You ask again. “Tell me more. Why do you think this is happening?” Business Owner X is at a loss. He says that there is a team leader who is much closer to the situation. The leader is seeing the same issues.
Now you’re getting closer. “So tell me about the leader”. Business Owner X says the leader used to be their top sales guy-with the company about fifteen years. They promoted him to the leader role about a year ago.
Again more digging. “What kind of leader training or mentoring has he had? Have you observed his interactions with the team?” Business Owner X does not send new leaders through any kind of training and there is no mentoring. Business Owner X travels a great deal and rarely interacts with the leader or team. He assumed that since the leader had been successful in sales for fifteen years that leading a sales team would come naturally.
Ding, ding, ding!
You’ve hit the jackpot. The problem here is not necessarily with the team. The problem is that a successful sales person was promoted into a team leadership role—without any training on how to do it and with no one to mentor him. If leaders don’t know how to lead, the team and business suffers in every area–productivity, cohesiveness, trust, and results.
You could have rushed to address the problem at the beginning; however, getting a team of new people would not have brought about the desired results. What needs to be addressed is leader training. The leader needs to understand team dynamics, how to hire effectively, how to engage employees, how to address low performance, and how to motivate—and most importantly, how to lead his former peers.
It can be complicated getting to the root cause of a problem. But it’s more complicated, time consuming, and expensive to continue fixing the same symptoms over and over.
Dig, dig, dig—and you’ll hit the jackpot.