Article

BUSINESS: THE CEO CHECKLIST

Reduce Employee Mistakes

How you and your team can help minimize errors in the practice

Action Steps

CLARIFY RESPONSIBILITIES

SUPERVISE

PROVIDE TIMELY FEEDBACK

IMPLEMENT CHECKLISTS

REQUIRE EMPLOYEES TO “OWN” THE MISTAKE

How do I get employees to stop making so many mistakes? For the purpose of this article, let’s assume this is not just the case of a “bad hire,” but rather a situation that is fixable, with some intervention. There is no such thing as a “mistake-free workplace,” but below are some checklist items for minimizing mistakes.

CLARIFY JOB RESPONSIBILITIES

Some cross-training often takes place in optometric practices, with many of these practices not having clearly defined individual job responsibilities. When that’s the case, employees sometimes take on responsibilities they are not fully trained for. Their intention may be good, such as wanting to be a team player, but incompetencies will reveal themselves in the form of mistakes.

SUPERVISE

A well-known study sought to discover whether changing certain work conditions would improve work performance and reduce mistakes. Interestingly, every time work conditions changed, production improved. Even more interesting, production also improved in the control groups that experienced no changes. After years of study, researchers finally concluded that production was not impacted by the changing work conditions, it improved because the employees knew they were being observed.

PROVIDE TIMELY FEEDBACK

Quarterly and annual reviews are great, unless these are the only times you’re giving performance feedback to an underperforming employee. Provide feedback in real time. When a mistake is made, provide coaching on the spot. Ask the employee to show you how to do the task to ensure they are clear on appropriate steps. This is an approach called “teach the teacher.” As discussed in previous “CEO Checklist” columns, the best way to learn (or relearn) something is to teach it to someone else.

IMPLEMENT CHECKLISTS

There was a time in medical history when a staggering number of people died on surgical tables due to preventable errors, such as a surgeon not washing their hands, forgetting to sterilize equipment, etc. These preventable deaths plummeted with the introduction of one simple tool, a pre-surgery checklist!

As humans, we’re fallible and we forget many of the things we hear. Wherever applicable, use checklists — or similar production tools — as visual reminders.

REQUIRE EMPLOYEES TO “OWN” THE MISTAKE

Ugh. Who would want to keep fixing their own mistakes? Exactly! “Oops, I forgot to get Ms. Smith’s insurance information.” “Well, call Ms. Smith and get it.” “Oops, I entered the wrong billing codes again.” “Well, call the insurance company and get it straightened out.” Sometimes, employees avoid doing things because it means less work. Take away that incentive. When mistakes result in more work for the employee, the incentive becomes avoiding mistakes. OM