We have all seen situations go awry. In my industry, it is usually an angry customer or damaged personal property. The knee-jerk reaction is to look at the employee that interacted with the guest and find out what they did wrong. This knee-jerk reaction is wrong! Yes, it is true that sometimes, the person is to blame, but let’s assume that is the exception and not the rule. We are all doing what we can with the tools that we are given. These tools include processes and knowledge, as well as actual physical tools.
An incident that I recently encountered was a vehicle incident where a valet employee damaged a vehicle. They went through a gate that came down on top of the car. The gates come down after each car unless the next car scans the ticket to get out of the garage. This valet driver followed the car in front of them, and the gate came down on the roof of the vehicle, causing (very minor) damage. After looking at the video, it appears that the employee scanned the ticket before driving through, but the gate still came down on the car. Is the valet driver’s fault? No, it is the process’s fault. The process is to drive slow and hustle with everything else, including scanning the tickets; unfortunately, in this case, the ticket did not properly scan. He hustled with the intent of retrieving the vehicle quickly and safely to the best of his ability.
We changed the process. If you are following a car out, let the gate come down before scanning your ticket. Simple and easy and effectively stops this from happening in the future.
I could have scolded him, but that would not have solved the problem, and it would have just hurt the morale of him and his teammates. Instead, try to to solve the process that caused the problem in the first place.
Have you ever been blamed for something that was because of the process and not you? If so, please share, I would love to hear your story.