Correcting Weaknesses in the Virtual Workforce With a Root Cause Analysis

No matter how carefully a manager builds a virtual workforce, there can still be weaknesses in it. Fortunately, there are ways to correct those weaknesses if they are found and addressed. Sometimes, finding the true reason for the weakness can be as difficult as, if not more difficult than, correcting the weakness itself. Regardless of that, though, the true reason does need to be found in order for the virtual workforce and its management to address the problem and take steps to improve the quality of the virtual workforce, the cohesiveness of the working environment, and the value the workforce brings to the company.

The Virtual Workforce Should Operate as One Unit

One of the most valuable things about a virtual workforce is how the employees can be located all over the globe but the workforce as a whole still operates as a unit. Having everyone work together is not only important for getting things done, but it's also important for getting along. Infighting and personality clashes can really disrupt a virtual workforce, which makes it harder for people to remain focused on their tasks. Their dislike of each other may affect their work performance, or they may deliberately try to sabotage another workforce member because they dislike that person. Those kinds of problems must be stopped.

A Breakdown in One Area Causes Problems in Other Areas

A weakness in the virtual workforce may come from just about anywhere. But no matter what the cause is there is a high chance that problems will spread from one area into others. By correcting a weakness in the virtual workforce through discovering the root cause, it is not just the weak area that is affected. There are other areas of the workforce that will also be improved, and in some cases that improvement can be very significant. This is especially true if the root cause of the problem was a breakdown in communication or a conflict between two or more workers. That can poison an entire workforce and make it feel toxic.

Just Treating the Symptoms Does Not Heal the Workforce

If a root cause analysis is not performed, the only thing management and members of the virtual workforce can do is try to treat the symptoms. That could make things better in some areas, but it is not going to actually correct the problem. Instead, it is like putting a band-aid on a serious wound. It may make it look better, but it does not actually heal the wound. Much more than a band-aid is required for a large wound, and much more than treating the symptoms is required for a significant weakness within the virtual workforce. Rooting out the cause and correcting it is the only way to truly heal the issue.

How a Root Cause Analysis Affects the Outcome of a Virtual Workforce

A root cause analysis, which is performed by finding the symptoms and then working down to the actual, true cause of those symptoms, can affect the virtual workforce in a couple of ways. First, it can shake up the workforce if there are changes made as a result of the cause of a problem. Second, it can be a sense of relief for employees who were struggling with the symptoms of the problem. These employees may also be struggling with the root cause itself, but they may not understand that it is the cause or may not be sure as to how they can do anything about it. Management may need to step in and make the changes.

Finding the Cause is Only the First Step Toward Correction

While there is great value in finding the root cause of a weakness in the virtual workforce, the work is not done at that point. The cause is only step one, because locating the cause means that it will be necessary to find ways to correct the problem. The cause may be a simple one that has an easy correction, but of course that is not always the case. In some virtual workforce weakness issues, the cause is much more serious and will take longer to correct. Management may not even be sure exactly how to correct it, and research may need to be done to sort out the best way to address the problem. But finding the cause comes first.

A Cause Means a Starting Point to Correct a Serious Problem

Every course correction begins with a cause that has to be addressed. That cause is the point where a manager and a virtual workforce can come together and start to problem solve. There can be an exchange of ideas, and that usually results in a better solution because it is a decision that is made by working together. As a manager, it is possible to simply come in and change things and adjust the workforce to reduce or eliminate a weakness. But that can result in some resentment that might not be seen at all if the virtual workforce feels like they have been included in the solution to the problem.

There May be More Than One Root Cause of Difficulties

It is very important for any manager of a virtual workforce to remember that there could be more than one root cause of a weakness. Just as a tree has a number of roots, so can a problem. If there is only one root cause, that makes things easier. But if there are a number of causes that have to be addressed there is an opportunity for significant change to be made.

This may correct a lot of problems all at once, which could make the virtual workforce much stronger and more cohesive in the future. That can lead to a higher level of accomplishment for the workforce, and an improvement in the value that workforce offers to the company. But finding a root cause, correcting it the right way, and unifying a virtual workforce around the changes that must be made takes time. Management must work with the virtual employees in order to ensure that everyone understands the changes being made, to reduce resentment or other issues that could otherwise become a problem.

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