15th May 2014

What’s the process? by Ian Kinnery

Whenever something goes wrong as a first reaction we all tend to look for someone to blame. Who’s done that? Who made that decision? or even why did that happen? we might hear ourselves saying.

It may be a normal human reaction to look for someone to blame but as a business leader it may not be the best, or most helpful reaction. The moment we are looking for someone or even something to blame is the moment that all parties go defensive. In a situation when tempers and emotions are probably running high and the scapegoat is being sought the chances of someone raising their hand and confessing to a mistake become less and less. People retreat, go into their shell, keep their heads down and avoid the question and therefore the problem.

Instead you may find it useful to train yourself to ask, “What is the process?”

The power of asking this question is significant on many levels. First off it stops people going defensive, so they stay engaged with their minds, ears and brains open for business, learning and growing.

Secondly it forces people to think in terms of processes and almost everything in a business is a process . Asking “What is the process and where has the process failed?” Is so much more productive than a witch-hunt. This improved question causes team members to think in a different way.

Very often, particularly if you haven’t been using this question much, you will be met with a dumb and embarrassed silence as your team realize that there is no process. This is your opportunity to develop your team’s systems thinking and have them think through a process that is robust and then document it. Not only are they so much more likely to understand it and therefore use because it is their process rather than your process but they are also owners and therefore advocates of that particular process. Most importantly you have gifted them the chance to learn, to improve, to take ownership and to be a part of the solution.

It may be that you do have a perfectly good, documented process in place, but someone doesn’t know it or has forgotten it. Well that is a training need. By seeking to question the process first rather than blame the person you have kept that person engaged and therefore capable of learning from the experience.

And in the final possibility where someone has made a mistake, has messed up, you will have kept their minds open and rather than running and hiding they have a much better chance of realizing that “there is a way of doing this and I haven’t followed it”, well at that point they have a clear choice of whether they are going to let that happen again or not.

So rather than explode and seek the culprit, you may train yourself to use a far more useful and productive question, “What is the process”.

We will be looking at managing your team and other similar, simple, but oh so effective strategies to build a better, more profitable business whilst generating a better lifestyle in our next free seminar. Why not come along and hear for yourself. Click here for details

Its on the 21st May so act now or miss out.