People are human, and that means mistakes are bound to happen. In fact, few of us get through the workday without making a single error. The closer we get to 100 percent, the better, of course. But, should 99.9 percent accuracy be considered good enough? Google the phrase “99.9% is good enough,” and see what comes back. You will find that 99.9 percent would leave a lot to be desired. At 99.9 percent accuracy you could expect:
• 810 commercial airline flights to crash every month.
• 1,314 phone calls to be misplaced by telecommunications services every minute.
• 107 incorrect medical procedures to be performed today.
• 18,322 pieces of mail to be mishandled in the next hour.
• 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions to be written in the next 12 months.
• 22,000 checks to be deducted from the wrong bank accounts in the next 60 minutes.
Some environments, like aviation and medical safety, are certainly high stakes. In these businesses, you just can’t depend on a mulligan, a do-over, or a re-load. Other situations present day-to-day examples of defects that while not life threatening can certainly be annoying and costly. Either way, product and service quality are important.
Most of us depend on people, processes, and equipment to get it right the first time. So where does excellent quality begin? Do you think defects occur mostly because someone is lazy or doesn’t care about good quality? Actually, it’s more complicated than that, but in my opinion it starts with management.
Arm Your Workforce with Training and Tools to Reach 100 Percent
Errors frequently happen because an employee is not trained sufficiently. Time and money invested in training can reduce the odds of mistakes happening. Managers often underestimate how much time and training is needed to get an employee up to speed if he or she is assuming a new position. It may be that manager has worked at the company, or in the profession, so he or she has lost sight of what it’s like to start in a new position, to have to learn so much so quickly. A manager who expects too much out of his or her employee without also providing that staff member with the tools to do the job is doing an injustice to that employee, to that manager, and to the company as a whole.
Companies are increasingly realizing that. Last year, spending on employee development rose by nearly 10 percent to an average of $800 per learner, according to a study done by Bersin and Associates, a firm that researches workplace issues. The research also found that the large business investment in social learning tools last year nearly doubled.
Mistakes can be costly, and so can bringing in new employees to replace the ones who left too soon. Effective bosses invest the time and resources in making sure their employees have the tools they need to allow them to succeed. Training can build the respect and confidence that a boss needs to have in a team member to minimize mistakes.
What is your business doing to reduce errors and improve quality? What tools or training are the most important to producing quality work in your job?
Alan See is the Chief Marketing Officer at MindLeaders. He has written this guest post for the Networking Exchange Blog.