Transformation Advisors, Inc.
B.I.G. Strategies for Business Excellence

When things go wrong, a typical first reaction is to think that the employee made a mistake or didn't follow procedure. Often, though, it's not about the people.

Fix your process, not your people.
People want to do the right thing. But there are some reasons why they might not do things right. There may be obstacles. You might hear things like:

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Ensure that

Pamela A. Millard, CPCU

Pamela A. Millard, CPCU 530.295.1083


  • "I don't know how to do this."
  • "I can't do this because Joe didn't do that."
  • "Doing it that way takes more time than doing it this way."
  • I've always done it this way and I can't remember to do it that way.
A broader view
All jobs in your organization work together to meet business goals and deliver the best experience for your customers and employees.If the process is flawed in one part of the organization, there are likely to be problems in other areas. It won't be just one process, or

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“Change must always be balanced with some degree of consistency.”
~ Ron D. Burton

one task, that isn't being done right. So remember to look beyond the immediate problem. Avoid the temptation to make short-term fixes and improvements on the fly. They hardly ever result in lasting positive change. Make sure that a change that works for one will work across the organization.

Fix the process.
When you find errors or mistakes recurring, ask "Why?" How effective are your existing processes and systems overall? Is everyone following the same processes consistently? Are there obstacles to doing the job right? Have you left big gaps in processes? Listen carefully to what your employees have to say about the work and the workflow, because they live with them every day and their input is invaluable.

Keep it fixed.
Simply saying a process has changed will not make it so. Training, reinforcement and follow-through are all necessary for lasting change.

And don't forget the importance of documentation. Make sure that procedures and workflows are written and available to anyone and everyone who might need to refer to them. Maintaining current documentation is also a troublesome issue. Procedures change so the documentation must also be updated. The onerous task of maintaining documentation is frequently left undone. And it's hard to ensure that people follow the procedure if the written instructions no longer apply.

Mistakes are a natural part of life. Everyone makes them. When you see the same mistake being made again and again, it's time to take a closer look. Even if it appears to be a problem employee, understanding the root cause is important. You can't fix people. You can't even change people. You can provide better tools or training. You can improve a process.

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