Identifying and Removing Obstacles

We all face numerous obstacles at work, large and small. When you have a team, additional problems can surface based on employee dynamics and pressures related to task performance, training, understanding and motivation.

As a business owner or manager, you want your team to be high performing, have high morale and be eager to participate. It’s important that you pay attention to employee behavior and recognize when lack of sufficient communication and anger issues stemming from unfulfilled expectations or facing pressures, cause problems that can accelerate into large obstacles.

An employee at your company can face obstacles in many ways. Understanding what these obstacles are can help you identify and remove them, leading to greater employee satisfaction and higher productivity.

Step 1: Brainstorm all of the obstacles.
Begin by brainstorming all possible obstacles. This can range from concerns such as not enough time; conflicting job priorities; lack of opportunity to apply training; peer pressure; disconnection from company culture; lack of self-confidence; lack of tools or resources to perform tasks well; lack of incentives to improve; and competitiveness within the workplace.

Step 2: Categorize the obstacles into the following three categories: No Control, Influence and Direct Control.
No Control obstacles are ones where the employee has literally no control over preventing or removing existing obstacles. This can range from infrastructure problems to management concerns. Influence obstacles are ones where the employee has influence over the outcome in varying degrees but they lie out of direct control or self-management. These also vary in their impact upon the employee with some resulting in greater impact such as pain or frustration. Finally, Direct Control obstacles are ones that the employee has direct control over such as his or her own behavior and taking the initiative to learn more and get training and support as needed.

No Control Influence Direct Control
Be aware but ignore this list Prioritize by the greatest impact Prioritize by the easiest to address

Step 3: Remove the obstacles where there is no control.
It is very important that an employee understand what obstacles he or she has control over. Knowing this removes burdens and the feeling of being overwhelmed. It also releases any restrictions caused through inertia or paralysis that results from feeling overwhelmed or unable to perform.

Step 4: Prioritize the “Influence” and “Direct Control” obstacles as shown above.
Identifying what obstacles the employee then can influence and have direct control over is the next step. These obstacles need to be prioritized as well by importance and effect on the employee.

Step 5: Develop an action plan for addressing the obstacles in these categories: who, what, when and how.
Take the first obstacle in Step 4 and develop an action plan of how you will address each obstacle looking at it practically and identifying who, what, when and how.

Step 6: Look back to step 4 for the next obstacle.
Go through the same process with each major obstacle in the “Influence” and “Direct Control” categories and figure out an action plan to address each one.

Doing this process is very helpful in getting clear on what obstacles your employees face and helping them become empowered to act in a healthy, productive way. It can prevent attrition and turnover while also boosting morale and team loyalty. You can also identify obstacles before they become insurmountable for your organization and improve your workplace so it becomes a place that employees love to be part of.