When things go wrong in your business are you quick to blame others? Or do you take responsibility yourself?
In my blog about the Initiative Ladder (Fantastic Teams #1) I explained that mistakes must be allowed to happen – on the understanding that the team member who made the mistake is ready to take the responsibility to rectify any mistakes they make; with your support.
That’s relating to using initiative, to deal with the exceptions that typically send your team members in to you, telling you about a problem that you are expected to deal with.
Sometimes however things can go wrong in routine stuff too.
How do you react to this?
Do you chastise the person who erred? Do you continue to hold a grudge against that person, continually reflecting over the mistake they made that led to negative consequences?
How do you think that person felt?
And continues to feel?
Do you think it was deliberate?
What really went wrong?
Do you know?
Or do you just hold them responsible?
What if, instead of responding to something like this with anger and/or disciplinary procedure you work with the team member to identify what led to the mistake happening with a view to ensuring that it can’t ever happen again; either by that person or any other person filling the same or a similar role?
Was the problem down to training or are they generally proficient and something was simply missed?
Did they miss something in a series of checks?
Was it something that’s simply left to memory? A process that has to be carried out and a part of it forgotten?
Work with your team member to find out the cause and find out how it can be avoided in the future.
Don’t simply leave it at taking the assurance from your team member that they’ll do better to remember everything next time. That’s unfair and quite frankly, it’s abdication. Anything left to memory is likely to be forgotten at some point especially when there are many steps in a process.
Do you have a system in place that acts as a reminder of the steps that must be taken every time that particular routine job is completed?
A system that includes the ‘bells and whistles’ of additional customer wows that reflect your personality and uniqueness that when followed means those wows happen consistently, every single time.
If you do have systems, do you provide detailed training on every system that you have in place so that there’s no assumption that because a system exists, people can simply follow it? if not, this too is a form of abdication.
Even if you have these things in place and a mistake occurred it’s important to understand what went wrong, was a step in the system mis-understood? Perhaps it needs re-wording.
Finally, was the system simply not followed?
If so, did you fail to convey the importance of following the systems? This is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of following the systems that are in place and to demonstrate the consequences of not following them.
It’s rare that a team member will deliberately sabotage. Most people want to do a good job. Putting a step by step system in place for each function of their job is the best way to ensure consistency and avert mistakes.
If you take a car for MOT, the mechanic, despite having performed MOTs countless times, completes a check list. This acts as a reminder to ensure no stone was left unturned.
If you go to McDonalds, you’re asked the same questions every time, you’re presented with the same burger every time, the fries taste the same, never burned or undercooked. The experience that you get from any McDonalds, anywhere in the world is exactly the same. Because they use systems and the train people to understand them and follow. Not just for making burgers but in management, marketing and every other function the business needs to be successful.
Having systems in place helps reduce mistakes happening. Mistakes are inevitable and mistake must be accepted. When you blame people they feel demotivated. Investigate the cause.
If the cause of the problem is owing to the system not being followed then understand why. Not every person enjoys following systems. If this is the case, then perhaps you’ve employed the wrong person for the job.
So, before blaming others, look in the mirror. What can you do to ensure that any mistake only occurs once.
If you’d like to get a free resource from me on how to put systems in place in to a business then send me a message either via the comments section below or via a direct message and I’ll happily send one to you.
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