We all know this feeling. You hire employee(s) to do some job. You give them tasks and let them work. And at the end, they don’t finish those tasks the way you wanted. And you become frustrated.
One of the biggest frustrations I ever had was looking at my employees doing their work in their own way, not the way I wanted. I thought they will produce the same results with the same procedures as I would. In the end, I was frustrated and angry at them, often telling them “please, turn on your brain and think!”. But later I realized it’s not about them, it’s about me.
For example, when you look at this image below, what do you see, is this glass half-full or half-empty?
If you say it is half-full, I could say it is half-empty. If you say it is half-empty, I could say it is half-full. We would be both right and wrong. We could argue about that. And we could both be frustrated. But this would be an easy situation because there are only two possible options. But in every business (and in life, too), we often have more than two options. And it gets complicated.
And this is what happens every day in our business. You have a glass with some water in it. You are an optimist, so you think that glass is half-full. But you might have a skepticist who work for you and he might think of it in his own way. You would think he would treat that glass as you would (drink water from it), but he might think it is some kind of poison and refuse to drink it, driving you crazy. “Please, turn on your brain and think!”, you would say.
How to solve this problem?
My partner and I went to a business consultant because we needed a solution. She immediately realized the problem and gave us a simple solution: write down and define everything. To imply means to misunderstand. I always implied my employees will do their tasks the same way I did, which led me to a frustration when they didn’t. Now, we defined almost everything. We wrote more than 100 pages (and I believe we still have a lot of room for improvements) of employee manuals and instructions on how to do certain things. In those manuals, we basically said: “this glass is half-full, there’s a water in it and this is how you drink it”. Now, an employee might be a skepticist, but it is my job to define everything and say there’s water inside, and his job is to follow my instructions.
94% of mistakes happen because of an error in the system, only 6% because of an employee making a mistake. Now, when my employee makes a mistake, I first check if it is because of the system or he made a mistake because he didn’t follow the system. If it’s the system, I update it to include new or updated procedures. If it’s my employee who made a mistake and didn’t follow the system, I talk to him and explain again this certain procedure.
This happens with our clients, also
Some time ago we had a situation with a long-time client. He had some potential PR crisis and he told us it is important that now we pay attention to some things, which we agreed to (even tho we don’t usually do that). That crisis actually happened and he became really angry at us. Here is how a conversation went:
Client: You didn’t do your job and now I have a problem!
Me: Yes, we did.
Client: No, you didn’t.
Me: Yes, we did, you told us to do this and we did it.
Client: But that’s not how it’s done, I thought you would do it like this.
Me: But you didn’t tell us to do it like this, it was never mentioned before. We thought we should do it like this.
Client: But I THOUGHT you will do it like this, this is how I needed it. Why didn’t you turn on your brain?!
Who’s to blame here?
- My employee who didn’t do the job exactly as the client thought it should be done
- A client who didn’t specify what exactly he wants from us
As a CEO, my job is to define everything. It was my job to ask my client to explain his expectation for us. It was me who thought we should be doing it like that way we did. If I had talked with a client and ask him more questions about work that needed to be done, we would define our procedures and tasks in accordance with his wishes and we wouldn’t have those problems.
I think is (probably) the most dangerous sentence you could say
We all have a different opinion about different things. Our opinion is based on our previous experience with the certain matter. But it doesn’t mean that opinion is correct and that leads to 94% of mistakes and a huge frustration with our employees, clients, friends, partners… What we all need to do is write down as many procedures as possible. If we are CEO’s, it is our most important job to define procedures and a set of rules. After we do that, we can hire employees and make sure they follow those procedures. Those procedures help them to be sure of what to do, so they can focus their energy on doing their tasks done.