Focus On Fixing The Problem Or Process, Not Blaming The Person

Since 2010, i mandated a ‘blame & fix processes only’ (ie dont blame people for mistakes) and this has helped improve productivity and revenue. I think its because it made people feel safe(r) to learn from mistakes and spend more time on actual business activities. Here’s what i learnt.

I have an employee who is so fearful whenever she makes a mistakethat she would either avoid answering or try to cover it up. I would ask her “what happened here?” or “this doesnt add up” whenever she lies to cover her tracks

and the funny thing is, the more she is fearful about making mistakes, the more mistakes she makes because she’s trying to avoid mistakes.

In fact, it took me more than 30-40 conversations with me telling her im okay with mistakes, just fix the process and the issues. Finally one day, the breakthrough came.

She started to realize that I am NOT baiting her or putting traps out to catch…and after a few weeks, when we found an error, she told “sorry i missed it”

And i said, okay, just fix it and we’ll look at the processes to help improve productivity and prevent errors

She was surprised when i said and did that.

I reassured her that i mean what i say, and say what i mean. She shared that in her previous employments, she had been terribly terribly scolded. So that’s why she tries to avoid and hide it now. Basically she is saying “she’s afraid of making mistakes” and it’s very clear to me.

i totally get it, i’ve seen such environments before and it’s not a productive working environment because people are spending energy, effort and time to NOT make mistakes and when they make mistakes they’re spending more time to hide it or throw someone else under the business who will then defend themselves

Do you see this ridiculous waste of time?

If you ever catch yourself or someone doing this, be direct with them and own your mistakes. Learn from them and move on.

Owning a mistake takes less than a minute, which you can then go on to do more productive things, rather than worry and be fearful.

Thats why i prefer to focus on fixing the processes, and creating a process-driven culture, when the process is right, the outcomes will be right.


Bonus story: this can be applied to any goals you want too, rather than work mistakes

An example, i personally know people who said that THEY are not rich because their parents didnt save money, invest or have a business.

So i know these people want to be rich. Funny thing is that i dont see them going out to learn how to earn more or invest more – the last 10 years i know them, they’re still going on how their parents didnt leave a lump sum of money for them…

Fix the process.

With this example, if one wants to have more money, then you have to study how to have more money. It may include learning a new high paying skill, starting a business, investing etc etc

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