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Don’t Blame The People, Blame The Process

As a business owner, one of the most frustrating things that can happen when you have worked hard to build up sales, sometimes over a very long period of time, is when the ball gets dropped by team members servicing those customers. Have you ever had an employee leave something out that detrimentally affects a customer? Or perhaps things go well initially, but then the follow-up isn’t handled well? Or perhaps both of those situations are handled perfectly, but then something happens that necessitates post-sale service, and the ball is dropped there? All of these situations are super-frustrating, and it is easy to blame the employee(s) involved. However, in the words of one of our wise business owners from our peer-to-peer business owner’s group, “Don’t blame the people, blame the process.”

Although it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that someone wasn’t doing their job in these circumstances, many times it comes down to a company process issue. Yes, there are times when someone needs to be moved within the company or even terminated, but frequently it’s a problem with company processes.

When these situations occur, before taking action with the employee(s) involved, ask yourself these key questions:

  • Training: Has training been handled well for these employees, and specifically on these processes?

  • Processes: Do we have well defined processes for the issue in question, or are we fooling ourselves by accepting a less-than-exact process for handling it?

  • Checklists: If it is a multi-step process, are there checklists available to make it easier for employees to quickly determine if anything has been missed?

  • Documentation: Have we adequately documented the process, and is that documentation easy to review?

  • Upper Management: Is upper management following the processes themselves, or are they paying lip-service to the process telling subordinates to follow it when they themselves don’t?

  • Inspect What You Expect: Is the procedure for handling things regularly inspected by management, or were employees told something once and expected to do it perfectly forever?

There are definitely times when it is necessary to terminate or find other suitable positions for employees, but frequently issues come about because of the items listed above. All of these items are things that are controllable by management. In fact, when done well, creating such strong processes and procedures makes for a much more profitable and valuable company down the road, which is something that can benefit everyone.

The next time an issue arises that involves a task being done poorly, before we as managers blame the people, we need to be honest with ourselves and question our own processes.

If you would like assistance with this, or possibly more information on The Alternative Board, please reach out on our Contact Page.

Until next time, I wish you the best in your business.

Mark Goldman



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