It’s cliché to say, but a business really is only as strong as its weakest link. Weak links come in all forms and fashions, from process-driven inefficiencies to cybersecurity vulnerabilities, but today we’re focusing on the workforce and the impact a weak link on the team can have on organizational success. Mitigating the problem isn’t always a simple fix for shortcomings within the workforce—and even if it was, you’d have to be able to find the problem first.
Read on as we provide guidance on identifying the weak link on your team, why you should care, and what you can do about it.
How to find your workforce’s weak link
There are a few predominant factors to consider when trying to pinpoint your workforce’s weak link. The first is the fact that past performance is generally an indication of future outcomes. That’s not to say that someone can’t improve—because, with the right coaching and training, anyone can get better. But at what cost? Do you have the time and resources to skill someone up to an adequate level?
You should also put in an effort to solicit the feedback of others. Don’t be afraid to talk with employees at various levels about what they think works well and what needs improvement to gain some valuable intel. Lastly, take the time to do a holistic review of each employee to dig deeper into each person’s strengths, weaknesses, flexibility, and career aspirations to arrive at a well-rounded evaluation. These profiles are key in finding your workforce’s weak link.
Why does it matter if you find the weak link?
This one is probably obvious, but a workforce’s weak link can ripple effect on a business. Weak links tend to be disengaged from the company and its core mission—in many cases, that’s because they can’t keep up with the rigors of the job. According to a Gallup poll, employees who are not engaged or actively disengaged at work account for $7 trillion in lost productivity globally.
There’s also the concern of the impact the weak link’s lack of production can have on your strong performers. Will they have to pick up extra work to keep projects moving? If so, that added responsibility could drive people you don’t want to lose toward an early exit.
What to do about your workplace’s weak link
Once the weak link has been identified, the first step should always be a candid conversation about expectations and performance. As one business owner told HR Dive, weak links are often weak “because someone hasn’t taken the time to have a conversation with him or her to identify the right role yet.” It’s quite possible that your weak link could simply be the cause of a “square peg, round hole” scenario in which a position change is a suitable fix.
If you and the employee both feel the job is a good fit, but the productivity just isn’t quite there, a performance improvement plan is an effective way to iron out some measurable goals with actionable steps to get there. Ultimately, if it’s clear that things just aren’t working out, it’s probably in your best interest to move on—but as a warning, there are some severe hidden costs of hiring that a lot of business owners forget about before making a personnel move.
Clarke Executive Services Group helps businesses find and fix weak links.
We understand that small- and medium-sized business owners have their hands full with running the business, which makes a lot of what we talked about here hard to simultaneously manage. That’s why we partner with these businesses on the advisement and administration of operations to help resolve problems like weak links in the workforce. Contact our Operations Consulting team today if you’d like to hear what we can do for you.