Rather than Blaming Employees, Managers Must Take Responsibility for Problems – in a Taco Joint, a Hospital, or a Factory

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I published a piece on Monday over at LinkedIn as part of their “Influencers” series:

Rather than Blaming Employees, Managers Must Take Responsibility for Problems – in a Taco Joint, a Hospital, or a Factory

Please check it out and feel free to comment there or here on the blog… The piece starts:

When any organization has quality problems or safety problems, this is clearly (to me) the responsibility of leaders and managers. When you’re the boss, you are (like it or not) responsible for everything that happens in your organization, whether it’s a restaurant, a factory, or a hospital. Sadly, many leaders think they can get away with blaming their employees when things go wrong. This behavior doesn’t improve quality or safety.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

3 Comments on "Rather than Blaming Employees, Managers Must Take Responsibility for Problems – in a Taco Joint, a Hospital, or a Factory"

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  1. That reminds me of this bit from Confucius:

    “They wishing a tranquil and happy kingdom, first ordered well their own States. Wishing to order well then their States, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated. Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their States were rightly governed. Their States being rightly governed, the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy.”

  2. I recently had a conversation with a client about why an employee was under performing. The supervisor explained everything the employee was doing wrong. I asked the following questions:

    Has the employee been properly trained for the task?

    Have you provided the right expectations for the task?

    What was the results when you followed with the employee about his performance? What is his improvement plan? Have you confronted the employee about any past performance issues?

    Many of the answers he replied was “No”. I coached the supervisor that if the employee is not managed correctly, then the employee is not the problem, “YOU” are the problem. The problems are somewhere in the organizational change. The next question I asked “Can we fix this now!”.
    Rafael Castillo recently posted..5 skills that every supervisor needsMy Profile

  3. Harry Conner says:

    I worked with a supervisor once that was complaining about an employee not doing his job. He had written this employee up twice for not meeting takt time and was about to issue his final warning. I asked him “have you evaluated his cycle time to see if the job can be done within the takt time” he said “I don’t need to; he can do it; he’s done it before.” So I did the time study only to find out that the operator was 30 seconds over takt time. This was after doing the job for a month. Looking at the person next to him, he was under takt time by 2 minutes. I agree if there are problems in a process, blaming the employee does not solve anything. Doing the due diligence of a manager is what fixes problems.

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