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If only my employees were smarter, more self-directed, able to handle problems and think out of the box my life would be so much better.  Does that sound familiar?

I’ve heard this mantra for years…if only my employees were ____________.  I’ve learned that it’s rarely about our employees; it’s about the system that we have them work in.

Look at the system first.  It’s easy for us to blame our employees when things go wrong.  The first thing I recommend is that you look at how their work is organized. 

I have a client who had an employee make a mistake that cost over $100,000.  When I asked about a checklist for this particular function, I was told there was none.  In my opinion, it’s hard to blame the employee when a simple checklist would have kept this mistake from happening.

When a mistake happens, ask what did I learn.  Buckminster Fuller used to call mistakes learning experiences.  People don’t try to make mistakes.  Almost everyone would rather do it correctly than make a mistake.  If we learn to celebrate mistakes and use them as learning opportunities, we start to remove mistakes as negative experiences.

You want your employees to admit when they make a mistake.  If we can get our employees to let us know when they make mistakes, we can fix them faster.  If you can take a mistake you’ve made with a customer and then correct it quickly, you will often find the customer becomes a raving fan.

One of my very favorite restaurants became a favorite because of the way they fixed a mistake they made.  The same is true for the ski shop that I use.  I remember corrections from mistakes much more than I remember getting good service.  I bet your customers do also.

Systems prevent mistakes.  We don’t want to have mistakes, just so we can learn.  We want to have systems in place that allow people to do flawless, mistake free work.

We want to deliver a memorable experience to our customers.  This type of experience comes from having systems in place that allow you to deliver a great service over and over again.  When mistakes happen, you want to ask what went wrong and what changes can we make in our systems to keep this from happening again.

Remember, it’s rarely about your people.  It’s often your systems that need work.  When we concentrate on our systems we allow employees to deliver a memorable experience to our customers.  And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what we want….memorable experiences?

Josh Patrick

I’ve written a special report on using key metrics in your business.  I encourage you to download this report by clicking on the button below.  I believe you’ll find this report fits in nicely with the entry above.


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Topics: systems, enterprise value, learning experiences

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