Guident Newsletter – May 2018 – Issue 25

If it’s not wrong, it must be right, right?

As a business consultant, I’ve been privileged to work with business owners who wanted to improve their operations and increase their bottom line results.   During this process, I get to know their businesses intimately, and in doing so, we often uncover inefficiencies and sometimes errors in tasks performed by employees who are doing what they feel is “the right thing.”

Once these errors are uncovered, “The Boss” often wants to react quickly with disciplinary actions or other penalties which they feel are appropriate for the mistake.  I caution them to first “look in the mirror” with regards to their own miss-steps. When I talk with the employee(s), who have been doing these tasks they often explain that they didn’t fully understand their job because of a poor onboarding process and/or poor training practices.   They told me they really were not sure if what they were doing was correct and “The Boss” was often not around to ask. This will happen in smaller companies where “The Boss” wears several hats and is often “on the move” to get things done.

The employee will say they did what they felt was best and then they wait!  They wait for “The Boss” to react to their work, and if nothing happens they feel “it must be right”.  What happens afterward compounds the issue. Because “The Boss” didn’t give them feedback on the task, the employee sees the process as being done correctly, and as a result, they have established their own Individual Operating Procedure (IOP) for that task.  When we discover these errors and “The Boss” realizes that almost every employee has established their own IOP’s for their specific job tasks, again “The Boss” is quick to get upset with their employees. Is this the right response?

Because “The Boss” did not carve out the appropriate time to “work on their business” these types of situations occur, often resulting in lost efficiencies and profits.  The majority of the fault lies with “The Boss” who does not set Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) in place to avoid many of these types of errors. With SOP’s in place employees would not have to “guess” at what is correct, they would know.   SOP’s are especially important if the organization does not have a strong training process in place. Employees look for structure and training, in most cases, they will be happy to do the task “right,” once they know what “right is.”

Better communications, time carved out to “work on the business,” and set in place SOP’s for important tasks (if not all tasks) will cure most of these shortcomings and produce a better culture within your organizations.  Look “in the mirror” before you react, it may save you time and money.