Mistakes Drive Me Nuts!

Mistakes Drive Me Nuts!!!!! I just can't handle them! In one of our Chicago training sessions last week, a business owner asked, "Do you have any incentives that could be used for production?" Well, yes we do. (BTW this is a combination of a couple events similar in nature that we ran into last week so this doesn't follow either one exactly, but you will get the point.) I asked, "What are you trying to achieve?" To boil it all down - the owner said errors drove him crazy. "I just go ballistic when they happen!" He continued, "I call everyone in and we go over it to see what happened." I didn't get the sense that this was done in a spirit of quality improvement; rather it seemed to me like the boss was throwing a tantrum and everyone else was ducking and covering - sorta covering their assets, if you know what I mean. I was about ready to launch into some quality management tools that could be used - the very first one is having a supervisor (leader) and readily apparent chain of command so that job flow could be monitored and appropriate quality processes implemented. But he didn't want to hear of any fish-bone diagrams. He said, "I want an incentive plan where I can take away money from them when the job is screwed up." "Hmm, how often does this happen?" He said, "Well, not often, but anytime they happen they drive me nuts. And this was one of our largest accounts and further, it just drives me nuts when it does happen!" Hmm. I'm getting the picture that this is a punitive approach to errors, how about you? I glanced at his financials and they didn't show any serious waste problem. Okay, I described a production incentive, but then said that I wouldn't recommend it for that won't solve his problem. His problem isn't the occasional error. Even in a well run shop with the highest of quality management principles, sometimes things happen - think Toyota if you will. But his issue wasn't big like Toyota. In fact, it was small. This was his best customer and the typesetter had missed it and the customer had missed it on the proof. The customer wanted a partial credit of some $500. Who in their right mind is going to jeopardize the account over $500? And that is what drove him crazy. He knew he would capitulate. Let's see, errors are a state of nature even in a well-run operation. But anytime they happen, he goes ballistic. My thought was the real issue just may be his reaction to the error; not the error itself. I can easily see him doing more damage than good. What should he do? He should maintain his balance. If our emotions were put on a scale of 0 to 100, he described himself as being a 100 when things were going good and a 0 when errors happen. Ah, ha! That's the problem. We should never be a 100 or never be a 0. We should try to maintain a 60 to 80 on the scale, or at least a 40 to 80. No matter how well things are going, they aren't going perfectly and we shouldn't allow our emotions to run away with us. Conversely, when things go bad, they're never as bad as they seem, so we shouldn't be a 0. A leader who goes from 0 to 100 is seen as erratic, and no matter how they act other times, everyone knows it could blow at anytime.So, the simple answer is to stop it. The problem is mainly with the reaction, in this case, and not the error itself. And that's the point. Maintain an emotional balance in dealing with others and the whole team will perform much better for longer. And that's what I have to say about that.

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