The APQC Blog

Dealing With Those 'Pesky" People Problems

In my last blog post, I asked APQC’s human capital management research program manager Elissa Tucker about how APQC’s HCM research can benefit professionals working outside the HR function. In this blog, I ask Elissa about other resources that professionals can use to overcome the people challenges that get in the way of productivity and quality improvement.

What are some of the people challenges that get in the way of leaders, managers, and even individual professionals as they work to achieve their business goals?

In my work at APQC, I hear about a lot of different types of people challenges that get in the way of productivity and improvement. Some of the challenges that I hear about frequently include:

  • finding qualified workers,
  • getting employees up-to-speed in new roles quickly,
  • developing leadership skills,
  • motivating retained staff after layoffs,
  • getting early-career and late-career workers to collaborate,
  • elevating workers’ soft skills,
  • managing a geographically distributed team,
  • having performance conversations with employees,
  • motivating employees to change how they work, and
  • retaining at-risk, yet business critical, talent.

As you can see, these aren’t just “pesky” challenges. These are serious issues that if not adequately addressed can significantly derail performance for an organization, a leader, a manager, and even an individual professional. However, people challenges are often difficult to tackle. Finding, organizing, and motivating people in a sustained way is a huge undertaking for which many business people have had limited opportunity to prepare. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources to help. Of course, I am partial to those offered by APQC, but there are others that I would also recommend to those who are particularly ambitious in tackling the people side of improving performance and productivity.

What are some resources that leaders, managers, and professionals can read to help them address these kinds of people challenges?

There are so many great resources about the workplace, careers, management, and leadership. I’ll share some of my favorites that I think would interest professionals who do not work in HR—so leaders, people managers, individual professionals.

  • Ask a Manager is a blog that features the advice of Allison Green, an experienced manager and consultant. Green blogs about a range of workplace issues including good management, hiring and firing, dealing with coworkers, and handling different kinds of work habits.
  • The HR Capitalist is HR professional Kris Dunn’s blog. Dunn provides direct and entertaining commentary on the intersection of HR, technology, and business. It’s a blog that a lot of us at APQC enjoy reading each day.
  • TLNT is a business blog focused on talent issues such as hiring, engagement, leadership, and organizational culture. Its posts are written by a wide range of talent management experts.
  • Anne Fisher is the Ask Anne columnist and a management and workplace contributor for Fortune.com. She tweets about leadership, management, hiring, careers, teamwork, analytics, and more.
  • The Atlantic Business Twitter feed includes business coverage from The Atlantic which can include in-depth articles that debate current people management issues such as the gender pay gap, productivity, diversity in hiring, millennials, and mentoring.
  • On Leadership provides tweets from this Washington Post column which explores leadership in the news, providing useful and often researched-backed guidance for leaders and managers. Topics include motivating, rewarding, hiring, and diversity and inclusion.
  • APQC also has great resources available on our Twitter feed and LinkedIn page, or you can sign up for the APQC’s HCM Content Update, a monthly newsletter featuring APQC’s latest research and activities related to human capital management.

To learn more about the challenges of people management, along with common misconception and an expanded list of resources, you can check out my APQC podcast with Elissa Tucker and read a transcript of that conversation.

What people challenges do you encounter as you go about your work? What are your go-to information sources for learning about the people side of improving productivity and quality? Post a comment to this article to share.