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Blame The System, Not The Person (Usually)

How can you manage employees effectively, meaning that they deliver results? This question was posed to a broad audience. Here is the answer I shared.

Based on my experience as a supervisor, I begin with the assumption that failure to be productive at work is generally **not** the fault of the employee but rather reflects a flaw in the system. Examples of systemic flaws include a poorly functioning technology, a stovepipe that creates red tape, and yes, a corporate culture that excessively punishes trivial mistakes.

That said, as we all know, we can’t just sit around and wait for the perfect system to emerge. So in my work with employees I try to figure out how we can be productive given the limitations that exist.

Through trial and error (nice way of saying I freely admit I have messed up at this at times!!!), I have found that there are two other things I can do to make a difference.

–The first is to make sure that my expectations are very clear and very realistic. (This is my personal rookie mistake, NOT BEING CLEAR.)

–The second is to focus on building trust within and between work units. You do that by ending the “gotcha game” and taking an attitude of collaborative problem solving.

At the end of the day, you have to spend time with your employees if you want to generate results. Keep in mind, you are supposed to be motivating them, not doing the work for them. (Another personal rookie mistake – MICROMANAGEMENT.)

You spend that time wisely by sitting down and respecting their wisdom and experience. You ask for their input — what is impeding results here? How are you and I contributing to that problem? How can we work together to fix it? And what will be the result if we can’t or won’t?

Unfortunately there will always be situations that deviate from the good nature and common sense of most people. If you as the supervisor recognize that such a situation is occurring, the best course of action is to reach out for assistance early and often. Do not try to fix those kinds of problems alone.

Finally, no matter what, remember that we are here on this Earth to learn. When you do your best, you will still fail and that is the way you’re built as a human being.


All opinions are my own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Image via Wikipedia.

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