As we know, there is almost nothing more embarrassing to an organization than a client mentioning a mistake on something that you present to them. The reasoning for concern is obvious, but many of us really mess up when it comes to solutions. In defense from running across embarrassing situations many managers will get a team of people together, lock themselves in a room, and brainstorm new rules and processes to prevent any future problems from occurring. After a consensus is reached, the management team will trudge out of their den and begin to impose the new regulations on the staff in the effort to keep “the machine” from ever having another hiccup.
I like to call the above method “passive micromanagement”. It’s great for team leaders because it gives us the room to say that we aren’t hovering over our team’s shoulders and thus dodging the always dreaded title of “micromanager”. It also instills in us the comfort of knowing that if they stray from our process, we can act swiftly and decisively to “take care of the problem” (impart punishment). Is there no better way to be proactive? Can we not trust the people that we brought on board to accomplish the goals that we trained them to execute?
Certainly WE haven’t failed in OUR hiring or training processes. Would it not be better to have team members work to realize how each action they take affects the people, projects, and processes around them? Instead of dictating to our people how to perform each facet of their job in order to prevent mistakes, perhaps we should work to hire the right people on the front end and help them realize that everything that they do has impact on another part of the organization and those others involved in it. For example, if there are misspellings or grammatical errors in a report that was sent to a client it can be extremely embarrassing to the entire company and more so to the person who deals directly with a client that notices the mistake. Instead of instituting new processes from the management team to fight this scenario from happening, have the individual responsible for compiling the report understand the responsibility that they hold. The right person for that job should be detail oriented enough to provide a document that is professional and accurate. They should also understand that the gravity of their obligation to ensure it is excellent upon presentation to the client. If you hire the right person, you can be sure that they will not need a process to ensure that the report is accurate and proofread before the client receives it. They will have enough pride in their work to guarantee its excellence before it leaves their desk.
The point here is that it is always better to take the time up front to be sure that you are bringing on the right people so that you can tell them where they fit into the structure, what you would like them to produce, and then let them get creative with their own process. Management teams can spend an eternity in meetings trying to head off problems down the road, but it will always be more advantageous to have a staff filled with proactive individuals who will catch the problem when it hits their desk. As General George S. Patton is cited with saying “If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you’ll be amazed at the results.” Take the time to be a truly proactive leader and invest in the right people, it is worth it in the long run.