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Managers Ignore Systems to Focus on Individual Employees

Submitted by  on January 13th, 2010

Computer screen with system failure errorW. Edwards Deming, the famous quality guru, said that over 90% of performance problems were not due to employee shortcomings, but to deficiencies in systems and processes. Why is it then that business owners and managers continue to focus most of their efforts on the performance of individuals? You can see this misguided focus in the setting of individual goals, the awarding of individual rewards and the whole annual performance appraisal ritual. Well, from my experience, I put it down to these four common factors.

Managers don’t know how to fix the system

The vast bulk of managers are not aware of the impact of natural variation on process conformance and product quality. They typically jump at any downturn in results and look for a quick solution in changing some poor employee’s behavior.

Fixing the system shifts the focus from employees to managers

How much easier is it to point the blame on the underlings? And when the product or service does not improve, then managers are let off the hook. “It’s the workers fault. I tried, but they are just incorrigible.”

Fixing the system often means managers working collaboratively

Managers have their own little fiefdoms that they feel the need to protect. In reality, getting satisfied customers depends on a number of interfacing systems working seamlessly together. Managers need to work as a cohesive team to ensure that cross-functional processes interlock efficiently.

Fixing the system takes time and effort

Repairing broken processes requires knowledge of systems and variability, skill in engaging employees and managing stakeholders, and perseverance. How much easier is it to simply offer a new incentive scheme and hope the problems go away.

Read my article on how to improve business processes to find out more.

Posted in Performance, Processes | Comments (0)

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