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Seven Habits … – Habit 4: Focus on the Process

Habit 4: Focus on Processes – Rather Than People

When was the last time you reprimanded someone for a job not done perfectly. I guess you can remember easily. And, when did you tell someone that she did an excellent job? If you have issues answering the second question whereas the first one comes to you easily, I suggest you go on reading.

So, you have no problem in finding people who are not as good as you are? This is a very common phenomenon amongst us, the managers, that is contributed to many factors.

Factor one: Sometimes, we think the way we do things is the best way and we refuse to accept considering other ways. The bad news is: we may have given up learning. We are not open for suggestions any more. No matter whether we are 30 or 60 years old, the world changes. The day we have given up looking for new developments and accepting some of them, we have started falling behind – at least in our leadership qualities.

Factor two: Often, we find that our team members are not as brilliant as we are. Isn’t it fair then to consider that we may have failed in our staff development responsibilities? And, if we stubbornly conclude they cannot be developed? Wouldn’t this mean, we may have recruited the wrong staff in the first place? And our succession planning must be in a bad shape, too.

Factor three: From time to time, we reprimand people who obviously make mistakes. Fair enough. Still, is there a small, teeny, tiny chance that we have not communicated our expectations clearly? Have we moulded them into policies and procedures so that we don’t need to repeat them every day again and again? Most importantly: if errors happen, our processes allow them to happen, right?

We don’t have team members who spend their time thinking how they can mess up our organisation and make us unhappy, do we? From time to time, it may look like that but it is usually not the case. Most of them do their best. They most likely try to anticipate the one thing they can do we may finally like – and we prompt with a smile.

The truth is, that our organisation, especially our processes, be it for recruitment, for performance management and for all other business activities are not good enough for delivering what we want. This is basically our responsibility.

Changing the way processes run is easier than trying to engineer our colleagues. Moreover, transforming a “people issue” into a “process problem” puts people at ease.


No one delivers defective parts, wrong information or even typos in emails intentionally. It is usually our processes that allow and sometimes even enforce mistakes to happen. If we were able to help our staff in improving and simplifying our processes, they would do their job in good quality. Investing some trust usually pays back. Trust me!

The best processes are simple, robust and Poka Yoke.

3 Responses so far.

  1. Palenitina Langa'oi says:

    Thank you for this article. It is a good reminder for us managers to invest some trusts on employees because we also contribute to the problems that occur in our organisations.

  2. UK says:

    Thank you, Dalida. My sentiments exactly. The best organisations are build on trust. I believe if we don’t have the courage (and take some degree of risk) we can not build a good organisation. Then, we would go mad checking everything on everyone. The result of that is usually even less quality because distrust makes people nervous and afraid. Nervous and afraid people deliver mistakes by nature.

  3. Dalida Malecaut says:

    Thank you for sending the article. Yes it is true that whenever things go wrong, we pin the blame for mistakes on people first- it seems to be human nature. We have to begin by believing that most people, given the right tools and resources, direction and clarity will do and really want to do a good job. We should focus on what is wrong and not on who is wrong.