Why Can’t People Just Do Their Jobs?

by Rebecca on July 29, 2013

Is this something you have ever said or at least thought?  I am embarrassed to say that I have.  One of my favorite communicators once said “Systems create behaviors,” and he believes that up to 80% of the problems we see in our businesses have more to do with the systems (or lack of systems) in place than the people.

I am not naturally a systems person.  I am actually one that revolts from systems, as they feel too confining for my entrepreneurial self.  My entire working life, I have always thought of things like systems as confining and something only big corporations do to keep employees in their place.

Systems actually enable us to be more consistent.  Also, removing ambiguity can free our minds to be the creative people we should all be in our jobs.iStock_000011349748Small

Last year, we experienced a great example of a lack of systems in our business that involved our pre-anesthetic checklists.  The short version was our checklists were not being entirely filled out which was a serious issue of safety and liability.

When I started reviewing our incomplete pre-anesthetic checklists, one thing that completely jumped out at me was EVERYONE had dropped the ball.

If it had been one person who never completed the checklist, then it would be a people problem, but when it was everyone I knew this was truly a systems problem.  I used to assume they were complete, but now I have someone who is checking them weekly which means my team knows any incomplete records will be brought to their attention.

If you have the same mistakes happening over and over again with different people, odds are you don’t have a people problem but instead have a systems problem. 

 Are there issues in your hospital that could be a lack of good systems rather than a lack of good people?

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