As a manager, it is your job to be responsible for everything that happens in your organization—this is true no matter if you’re running a restaurant, factory, hospital, or software company. From safety issues to quality problems, you have to own the failures, just like you do the successes. Too many leaders in today’s business world try to get away with pointing fingers at employees when things go wrong. Laying the blame on employees is not going to improve your quality or safety. Below we’ll take a look at two situations where managers blamed employees, discuss why it happened, and explain what a good, responsible leader would have done.
Situation A: The Restaurant
A local restaurant fails a health inspection two years in a row receiving many of the same demerits they received the first time around. The refrigerator temperature was set to high, blood from the raw meat was dripping into the flour, and cutting boards were moldy, just to name a few of the issues. The manager of the restaurant did not correct serious problems found a year ago.
Popular TV shows like “Kitchen Nightmares” have explained that these types of problems in restaurants occur due to the lack of leadership. Owners are never there and lazy leaders choose to ignore problems like these that pop-up out of nowhere. Either that or they don’t know what kind of problems to look for.
Manager’s Response: The manager confirmed to the local paper that many of the same problems still exist. He says that he called a meeting to get the staff on the same page and has an appointment for a re-inspection.
The Issue: By saying he called a meeting to “get the staff on the same page” it sounds like the manager is blaming the staff. It should have been his job to make sure everyone was on the same page to begin with—especially after their previously failed inspection.
What should have happened: A responsible manager or owner would have addressed the issues as they saw them happening. None of those problems were invisible. If a restaurant hires well, trains their employees, and makes sure they have all the proper food safety certifications, problems like these don’t occur. The manager should’ve publicly taken the blame for this situation.
Situation B: The Hospital
Two children are harmed by a preventable medication error at the medical center. They were given an adult dose medication. The leaders of the center blamed employees for failing to follow standard policies and procedures.
Manager’s response: The Chief Medical Officer said there was no excuse for the error to happen.
The issue: There are always many reasons or causes for an error to occur. Poorly designed work processes and lack of understanding caused this issue to happen multiple times to multiple babies. Often in hospital environments, staff is short and employees aren’t given the tools they need to do their job successfully. This is the manager’s responsibility for not staffing properly, not the employee’s.
What should have happened: A responsible manager would have told the public that the leaders of an organization are responsible for providing the correct tools to their employees and putting proper checks and balances in place to make sure issues like these don’t occur. Leaders need to take actions to fix the systemic factors in order to improve the system.
If you want to be respected as a leader in your workplace, don’t make the same mistakes as the managers in these examples. Stop pawning off your responsibility on your employees and take action in order to achieve the best results.
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