As the year draws to a close, many business owners are looking at their sales numbers, expenses, and profits and not liking what they see. Rather than simply chalking it up to a bad year and resolving to do better next time, take this as an invitation to dig deeper into your business’s needs. Resolve to get to the root causes of your business’s problems by removing organizational dysfunction and focusing on building a workplace where everyone on your team is committed to the company’s goals.

Are You Too Focused on the Symptoms of Your Company’s Organizational Dysfunction?

The end of the year can cause business owners and managers a lot of anxiety and stress. When the company’s sales numbers are down, expenses are up, or turnover is high, it can be tempting to focus in on these as signs that something is wrong. And it is important to be aware of these warning signs.

However, it is also important to remember that the symptoms aren’t the problem. When you catch a winter cold, the runny nose, cough, and even the fever aren’t what are making you sick. The illness comes from a virus that you can’t see from the outside. Businesses are no different. Finances in the red or unfilled vacancies may simply be a sign of greater organizational dysfunction. You need to dig deeper and look for the root causes if you want your business to be healthier.

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How to Identify Root Causes Behind Business Blues

Identifying the root causes of a business’s problems means shifting your perspective from what went wrong (low sales numbers or employees leaving) to why it happened. Your team will need to gather data and information from every point along the product or service pipeline – from management to the point-of-sale employees, and even from your clients themselves. The more comprehensive your data is, the better you will be able to see the patterns and problems emerge.

By digging into the why of your problems, you can peel back the layers of the issue and uncover the root cause behind it. This could have to do with workplace culture, supply issues, employee competencies, or leadership styles, just to name a few. Until you have identified the root cause of the symptoms of organizational dysfunction, your company will continue to struggle, and you’ll see the same problems arise year after year.

What are the Root Causes of Business’s Problems?

Root cause analysis can identify a variety of organizational dysfunction, systemic issues, and policies and procedures that interfere with your company’s success. The root causes of your business’s issues are highly individualized and can vary based on industry, business size, and leadership history. Still, root causes often fall into one of several categories:

  • Planning and Goal Setting: Having a clear, compelling, and well-communicated path forward for your business is often key to a business’s success. Without a strategic plan, team members may not know the direction the company is headed, or how to help it get there.
  • Employment and Staffing: Hiring practices, screening policies, and the strategies behind when and who to bring onto projects can affect the quality of your team and their ability to meet business expectations.
  • Training and Professional Development: How your company educates employees after they are hired can play a big role in their successful onboarding, and in the implementation of new tools, software, policies, or processes.
  • Leadership: Often, organizational dysfunction starts at the top of the company org chart. Taking a close look at the leadership and management strategies used by team leaders can uncover root causes of employment issues and company problems.
  • Pipeline and Execution: Understanding how your clients’ orders or projects move from pitch to payment can often identify root causes of problems that are surprisingly straightforward and still go undetected in the broader scheme of things. From workflow bottlenecks to processing issues, these issues in execution can hold your company back if they are not addressed.
  • External Obstacles: Understanding how your company responds to external threats, economic stressors, or unexpected obstacles can be key to building resilience. Preparing contingencies and taking a proactive approach to obstacles can minimize threats and keep the company on track.

Find the Root Causes of Your Business’s Problems

Identifying and resolving the root causes of your business’s problems won’t happen easily, or all at once. It takes an objective analysis of your company’s strengths and weaknesses – often by someone outside the corporate structure. A business consultant can talk openly and honestly with your employees, challenge the company’s core assumptions, and see the blind spots your current leadership may be ignoring. An external consultant to analyze your company with an objective eye and create a plan that gets to the root causes of your business’s problems. Get started today to make 2024 a success.  

David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 30 years’ experience helping small business owners identify and correct organizational dysfunctionContact us to meet with David to create and get to the root cause of your business woes today.