When a problem arises in your workplace, do you focus on who caused the problem or the process that led to the problem?
This was the question a client, an Executive Director of a senior care retirement community, raised with me this month. His leadership practice is “root cause, not root who.” When a department director brings a problem to his attention, he insists that they focus on the problem, not the person. He tells them, “Don’t tell me the person(s) involved. Let’s identify the process that led to the problem.”
He made this shift when he realized that too much attention was focused on the staff people involved, which side tracked addressing what was really important – the process.
The Executive Director would say it is the process that is the root cause that led to the meds not being delivered timely to a resident. If the process can be improved or changed to minimize this occurrence again, then the problem has been resolved.
I’ve been privy to numerous client situations where managers are so focused on WHO did what and WHO said what that examining the process gets lost. As a result, managers get caught up in the drama of employees’ personalities, behavior, and trying to figure out who is telling the truth. When the focus is on the process, the organization can better itself. Everyone has a stake to ensure the processes allow employees to do their jobs efficiently, carefully, and correctly in serving their clients.
So, next time a problem comes to your attention, begin with, “tell me the root cause, not root who.” Let me know how it works for you!