When putting things right could be wrong…

Picture the scene: 

Your team have just produced a proposal for a client, who has complained that there are four mistakes in it, including the mis-spelling of their business name. Oops! Not great for your reputation, or your relationship with them. So what do you do? 

Put it right of course, with huge apologies. But what then? 

Well naturally, you set about making sure it doesn’t happen again.

You’ve read all about cause and effect, so you look for the cause, and determine that it’s human error – an employee with poor attention to detail.

Your solution? Put in an extra layer of proofreading. Get someone to do a final check to ensure accuracy. Yes, it’s going to cost you, but it’s your reputation and repeat business at stake.

Sounds good.

But then, guess what? Mistakes keep happening. 

So what now? Another layer of checks? Because that worked so well for the original problem!

  • Your ‘culprit’ now doesn’t have to take responsibility (or care) for their work because someone else is checking it. 
  • Your checker is thinking that the creator of the document is pretty useless, and resenting the waste of their time.
  • And your checker of the checker… well, goodness knows what they’re thinking!

You couldn’t make it up. And I haven’t. This is based on a number of very real situations I’ve come across in successful small businesses over the last few years.

It’s surprisingly common practice to rectify the under-par performance of a team member, by having someone else (maybe even you!) effectively do their job for them.

What starts as a small problem just grows until you’ve got two, or sometimes three people doing one person’s job. That’s three times the expense – your original culprit is still under-performing, your trusted people are getting hacked off, the team are fragmenting…your problem’s got bigger!

So how to fix it? 

Tackle the root cause of the problem.

Is it really an employee not having any attention to detail? What if it’s that you haven’t allowed enough time for the production of proposals, or that you haven’t giving the team any training to instil your high standards, or that your proposal template is to blame, or that your process for producing proposals is complicated and confusing?

Find the root, and then tackle it.

Prevent the problem happening in the first place.

Prevention costs are said to be about 10% of failure costs (like re-work/losing customers) and inspection costs (like the extra checks that were put in, in this example above).

Prevention by instilling a ‘get it right first time’ culture in your business – by simplifying and perfecting your processes – by training your people to use them effectively, and to your standard. 

Prevention is the most cost-effective and long-term cure. It’s common sense – so make it common practice in your business.

Do one thing: take a look at the number of checks in your business. How much time and money are you wasting?

This article was originally published at https://bright7.co.uk