Problem Identification

Image of Tom Hanks with caption Houston we have a problem

Problem Identification


Before you can solve a problem you have to know that you have one!

Setting aside the fact that you may have had a problem for a while before you realized it, many factors make it difficult to see problems in the first place.

 But there a few tricks you can use to see what’s wrong before it becomes too late.

Some problems will scream at you so loudly that there is no way to miss them. But others are more subtle and can easily slip under your radar.

This is where having a system will help. Management reports are a powerful tool to help identify problems early, but you need to be diligent about reviewing them.

What should you be looking for?

Customer complaints

This is possibly the clearest indicator of a problem in the system and one that comes with feedback included. So you will already have insight into what the problem is.

Monitor your complaints and investigate each one to rule out systemic problems.

But also monitor the number and type of complaints. A sudden increase in complaints will point you to a problem that needs to be resolved urgently.


Financial reports

Sounds obvious, right? But it is surprising how many people give these only a cursory glance. Again we are looking for trends and changes. Have your expenses blown out? Sales dropped? Salary bill increased?

Any anomalies you notice in your financial reports warrant investigation.

Staff turnover and absenteeism

Problems in the workplace make people unhappy. And unhappy staff leave, take more sick days and even injure themselves more frequently. Any of these can be a symptom of a deeper problem within your business.

Safety performance

Speaking of unhappy staff injuring themselves more frequently keep a close eye on any safety incidents. Systemic problems that affect safety are a huge risk to your business.

Employee feedback

Your staff are the real experts on the best way to get the job done. Listen to them. Not only do they know the problems they may have the solution too.

Formal surveys can be useful but so is a simple chat. Ask your team to tell which things aren’t working.

Keep an eye on the competition

Are your competitors doing something that you are not? Consider whether that’s something you need to be doing. Know who your competitors are and keep track of them. You can learn from both their successes and failures.

Practising these activities regularly will help you to identify problems before they become insurmountable. But if you feel like you could use a little help please book a free, no-obligation call – I love getting stuck into a business problem!

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