Why Your Business Systems Are Failing – And What You Can Do to Get Them Back on Track

In life, we all have highs and lows. Sometimes it feels like we’ve got it all under control. And other times we feel like a hot mess.

Just like people, businesses go through periods where they feel off track. Employees are disengaged, customers are annoyed, technology is working against you, sales are down. Have I hit a sore spot yet?

When this happens it’s important to get things running at peak performance as quickly as possible.

But first you need to locate the problem. In this article, I share five common reasons your systems may be failing.

And then I help you take the right steps to get your systems back up and running smoothly.

1. Your employees are too busy

Which would you rather have?

  1. Busy employees
  2. Productive employees

The two sound similar, but there’s a huge difference. The question is, are the actions your employees are taking moving the needle? Or are they busy worker bees without any honey to show for it.

Employees need to know that it’s better for them to work smarter rather than harder. That staying late isn’t a badge to be won, but instead that finding simple solutions that make their job more effective is the true target.

As a manager you can help your employees see that this is a priority. Ask them: What’s your process for this task? Why are you doing this or that? Use the “5 Why’s Technique” to determine the root cause of a problem by repeating the question “why?”. Encourage them to layout a system and share it so that others can learn from it too.

2. Technology is getting in the way

The number of software programs companies are using today is staggering. As of April 2017, Netskope reported that the average number of cloud services used by enterprise companies is a whopping 91 marketing cloud services.

This explosion of apps is giving way to some great resources. But not every resource is necessary. Not to mention that it’s blowing budgets out of the water.

So before you say “yes” to that cool new tool, ask yourself:

  1. Do any of my current tools already accomplish this?
  2. Is this more efficient than what I’m doing now?
  3. Will this take us off track on another more important project?
  4. What resources will it take to put this in place?
  5. How will this affect our bottom line?

3. Your people are averse to change

You’re employees mean well; they want to do what’s best for the company. But we all know that it’s hard to change people’s minds.

And in the workplace, getting employees to open up to others ideas and more productive systems can be a real struggle.

If you want to help ease them into a change you need to help them own the change. Try this:

  1. Be clear that the change is happening and be transparent about timing.
  2. Bring them into it as a partner, letting them know that they are an integral part of making it successful.
  3. Show them your process and encourage them to share feedback on what they see is missing. Ask for their help developing specific parts of the system you’re putting in place.
  4. Make sure it’s clear who you’ve designated as Project Manager so they know who to contact, even if it’s you.
  5. Schedule out progress meetings throughout the process. It’s important to report to the team consistently so that they feel included – and that you avoid gossip. Did I say gossip? I meant guessing… but you know what I mean…
  6. Celebrate with them. Give them compliments on their part.

4. You want to control every interaction

Newsflash: You are only one person.

For those in leadership roles, control can be a difficult thing to give up. You were successful at your job before you were promoted, and now you want to see your team being just as successful.

But your employees will never be successful if you don’t allow them to grow into the role.

Instead of managing every process and interaction you need to:

  1. Train them on the important aspects of the role.
  2. Layout and communicate the process.
  3. Ask “why” it’s important to do each part a specific way. They should understand the meaning behind their actions, not just the actions themselves.
  4. Ask them to come up with more efficient and effective ways to accomplish the “why.” Give up control and let them be the king of their castle. Know that as long as they understand the “why” and are motivated to get the job done correctly, they will find a path that fits their unique style.

5. You’re not sure what to test

Every system needs to be tested.

But without a clear layout of the system, specifically, the levers that affect the process, you don’t know what can be improved upon.

When you’re setting up a test:

  1. Look at areas that have measurable results – you must know how to quantify the change.
  2. Select just one variable to test at a time.
  3. Pick a hypothesis.
  4. Ask yourself; if my hypothesis comes true will it 1.) Affect my ROI and 2.) Be repeatable?


As a company leader you can affect change. But you can’t do it alone.

Notice that each of these problems and solutions include your employees. Without your team, you can’t get the job done.

You won’t get everything right. But trusting that you made good hires, that your people want to work hard and help the company succeed, should be your default. Let them know you trust them. And be consistent about how you interact with them so that you’re creating a safe haven during a difficult time.

It may not seem like it, but everyone is watching you. They want to know that their jobs are safe. They have families and homes and car loans – and showing them they matter and that you value them is key. You’ll be able to re-engage them at a whole new level and they’ll want to work just as hard as you to get the company running smoothly again.

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