Picture this: you come to the office well-rested after the weekend. You’re organized, prepared, and ready to tackle those big business objectives that have been tap tap tapping at your desk.
You open your inbox and are welcomed with a flood of emails. *Sigh*
Two colleagues can’t see eye to eye on how to begin a major project. Both have valuable skill sets, strong opinions, and both will be missing the project’s deadline if they don’t get on.
Another colleague can’t seem to wrap their head around the new CMS system and needs support.
You’ve got multiple reports indicating three team members have been missing deadlines.
Ding, ding, ding, welcome to workplace challenges!
If work challenges like these seem all too familiar, you’re not alone. A 2023 study found that over 85% of employees have experienced workplace conflicts or challenges.
The truth is, your team can’t afford to lose any more time on these challenges, but they’ll just keep popping up if you try sweeping them under the
There are deadlines you need to meet, objectives to achieve, and promotions to win.
Yet, maintaining a productive work environment means you’ll need to carefully navigate through common management challenges and find a solution that meets everyone’s needs.
In this article, we’ll cover six common workplace challenges for managers and how to solve them with expert insights by Karen Feeley, training specialist and CEO of Comprehensive Learning Solutions.
What are workplace challenges?
A “workplace challenge,” is any obstacle between your team, their work, and everyone achieving business objectives.
These roadblocks often take the form of disputes, performance issues, and poor workload management.
Every organization is different, and workplace challenges can take a wide variety of forms.
Quickly resolving them and getting your team back on track will save you from losing valuable resources and keep you reaching your objectives efficiently.
6 workplace challenges and how to overcome them
Solving workplace challenges is about understanding employee’s communication styles, supporting employees where needed, and reaching a solution that moves your organization forward.
Here are six common workplace challenges and how to solve them according to a workplace training expert.
1. Ineffective communication and relationships
A 2023 communication report states that 53% of employees have missed messages due to communication issues within a company.
When poor communication takes hold, employees don’t know what to do and inevitably miss out on important information for carrying out a company’s mission and vision.
Communication plays a central role in ensuring that tasks are completed, people are happy, and a company is thriving.
How to overcome this challenge: speak their language
The basis of communication issues and problematic relationships in the workplace usually stems from personality differences.
While the way we communicate may seem the best route for us, others may prefer to approach the workplace with a different style.
Once you’re aware that people will communicate differently, you can adapt to their style of communication while following their actions. Karen, CEO of Comprehensive Learning Solutions, tells us more.
“Managers need to observe how their team members act. With this combined awareness, managers can flex how they speak or behave around their team members to better suit their members’ needs.
The Golden Rule says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But managers and leaders are better off following the Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as they would have done unto them.”Karen Adler Feeley, MBA, PMP
2. Underperforming employees
Specific employees constantly underperforming is another challenge that can wreak havoc on your organization.
When underperformance occurs, employees don’t meet the standards or objectives of their relevant roles.
Underperformance can appear for a myriad of reasons, causing employees to miss deadlines, turn in low-quality work, or fail to reach targets.
A study by the Harvard Business Review states that poor performance costs businesses approximately $15.5 million per year.
How to overcome this challenge: implement the FEED rule
Maintaining employee performance is a major move for maintaining overall productivity and morale.
Providing feedback, identifying root causes, and ensuring that employees have the support they need sets the stage for transforming the worst cases of underachievement into stellar stories of workplace triumph.
When it comes to giving feedback and communicating, Karen Feeley recommends the FEED model:
FEED stands for:
- Frame your positive intent for why you are providing this feedback
- Examine the evidence of what you have observed (needs fixing)
- Explain the effect of the poor performance (on the organization, outcomes, or audience)
- Describe recommendations or suggestions for improvement
3. Workplace conflicts and issues
Have you ever noticed that some team members work great together?
They collaborate effortlessly, seem to feed off each other’s creativity, and overcome any roadblocks head-on.
While that’s the dream, it certainly isn’t the case for all team members. Conflicts arise due to a difference in opinion, conflicting interests, or attitudes towards tasks.
When left unchecked, conflicts can spiral into a toxic work environment, loss of morale, and lowered productivity.
If solving conflicts like these seems like a job for lead team members with expert communication skills—that’s because they are. Here’s how.
How to overcome this challenge: communication training
The most important approach to resolving conflicts is realizing that employees have different communication styles that come part and parcel with their personalities, preferences, and even skill sets.
Training can help employees realize the strengths of different styles while helping them empathize and reduce workplace conflicts.
Karen notes the benefits of workplace training for resolving conflicts and overall employee development:
“Training can provide tips and practice on how to flex to meet the listener’s needs.
That is the first step. The next step is to appreciate the diversity of perspectives and determine how best to use that for the benefit of the team.”-Karen
4. Burnout and stress
High-pressure environments and excessive workloads—it’s a double team recipe leading to the worst of all workplace villains: burnout.
A 2023 report found that a staggering 62% of employees have felt the weight of burnout and stress sometime in their careers.
When an employee undertakes more than they can handle for a long period, it can lead to reduced well-being, work performance issues, and even long-term health risks.
It’s a lose-lose situation for both the individual and the organization.
How to overcome this challenge: turn workmates into friends
If an employee is suffering the symptoms of burnout, there are a few things managers and business leaders can do to help bring stress to a minimum.
If your employee is dealing with an unsustainable workload, delegating tasks to other workers and even bringing up a new hire are more options.
But, if you’re not quite ready to start sending out interview requests, there’s still another handy tool in your team managing toolbox.
It involves organizing team events and celebrations that help employees rest up and reduce symptoms.
“Just as people need to sleep at the end of the day to reinvigorate their bodies, so do teams need to pause occasionally to reinvigorate their energies. Turning workmates into friends, letting go of some stress through active team events (like bowling or baseball games), and recognizing people’s good work go a long way to strengthen the bonds that prevent burnout.”
But, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds if you work in a remote team. Not to fear, there’s still a way to break down those barriers and bring your people together.
Virtual events and team-building sessions like online game nights, well-being check-ins, and online health-oriented workshops are effective ways to build connections between team members online.
5. New process and technology challenges
Introducing a new workflow, technology, or routine, can understandably be challenging for employees to adapt to the change.
We are, after all—creatures of habit. Using new systems may require a considerable amount of effort during the implementation phase.
It’s not uncommon to be met with resistance or for you to uncover skill gaps that need additional training.
However, the success of a new process or tool may lie in what you do before introducing it.
How to overcome this challenge: make it about them
Before introducing a new process into the workflow, make sure to communicate both the benefits and reasons for establishing it in the first place.
There’s also a specific way to approach presenting processes. Karen emphasizes leading with employee benefits:
“Typically, when organizations tend to explain the rationale behind a new process, they explain it in terms of how it will help the organization achieve its mission.
A more effective way to encourage change is to talk about the change first in terms of how it helps the employee, then how it helps the employee’s colleagues or team, and finally how it helps the organization.”
So, how do you communicate a new process as effectively as possible? Here’s a template you can use to frame introductions:
We’re rolling out <technology or new process>!
It’s help you in your every day by:
<employee benefit 1 with brief explanation>
<employee benefit 2 with brief explanation>
As a team, <technology or new process> will enable us all to <effects of adopting new process on team>.
Finally, it helps us fulfill our mission of<company mission> by <use case>.
Here’s what to do next to ensure a smooth transition.
<Explanations of next steps>”
Selecting the right tool makes for smoother implementation. Software with intuitive UI and easy onboarding lets your team ease into adopting new technology and processes as naturally as possible.
Ask yourself if your chosen tool fulfills objectives while making your employee task completion easier.
Once that’s done, how you introduce the tool the first time around will massively dictate how it’s perceived and adopted by the company.
6. Demotivation and disengagement
Nothing turns off creativity, productivity, and morale faster than demotivation.
When employees feel disengaged from their work, it’s only a matter of time before it starts to affect overall performance.
Demotivation can rear its head for more than one reason too. Common examples include unclear expectations, lack of appreciation shown from stakeholders, and limited growth opportunities.
It’s enough to leave even the most passionate professionals cold at times.
How to overcome this challenge: show appreciation and offer opportunities for growth
Since demotivation is such a mixed bag, there’s more than one way to solve it.
Managers can recognize and reward employees when they successfully complete tasks.
This method doesn’t apply to just monumental milestones either. Even recognition for smaller tasks can initiate the domino effect of helping employees build up motivation.
Add consistent feedback loops with development programs to the mix, and you have a three-pronged approach to help employees overcome those demotivation blues.
“Maintain open lines of communication and provide regular feedback: This helps employees feel valued and understood, fostering a more engaged workforce.
Acknowledge and reward hard work and achievements: recognition can be a powerful motivator and can be as simple as verbal praise or as significant as promotions or bonuses.
Lastly, offer training and development programs: we’ve found employees are more engaged when they see opportunities for growth and advancement.”Gene Caballero, Co-founder of GreenPal
Workplace challenges are opportunities for development
Workplace challenges may seem like a nightmare keeping you from turning business goals into reality.
But, the truth is: they’re bound to arise in one form or another.
Whether you’re dealing with conflicting opinions between employees or you’re struggling to rearrange your workflow, each challenge is a chance to exercise your improved management skills in 2024.
Karen helps us close out by explaining how a manager’s perspective plays a crucial role in workplace challenges:
“The very same issues that threaten businesses can also be the catalysts that drive them towards improvement efforts that catapult businesses towards the future.
As the saying goes, “When one door closes, another opens.” It is all a matter of perspective and what you do with that viewpoint.”-Karen
Workplace challenges can even be a blessing in disguise, acting as opportunities to improve any Achilles heels tripping up your team and realizing your mission and vision.
They’re as much of a challenge for you, as a manager, as they are for your team.
Which means they can be as much of a success as well when handled the right way.
Good luck! Now go and embrace that challenge!