We’re having some work done on our house. The other day we had massive rainfall and the ceiling started leaking. We immediately contacted the general contractor who in turn contacted the sub-contractor who made it to our house a few hours later. He was attentive, concerned, and in short order located what he believed to be the problem.

“Looks like the roofers just missed a couple spots.”

Mistakes happen and it helps to be sympathetic to the infinite number of variables that can cause those mistakes. But the fact that neither the sub-contractor nor the general contractor were ever on site when that particular job was being done illustrates a larger problem.

Supervision is more than hiring someone to do a job and expecting that it gets done right. Yet, small business owners and managers in huge institutions regularly use complaints and mishaps as performance indicators. Then, when those indicators skyrocket, they’re befuddled.

Management is about consistently examining work to see how it can be done better. That does not mean micromanaging or constantly taking punitive action against staff. It means helping staff develop professionally.

It may seem like a lot of work to have to make sure your crew is always striving to do the best job possible, but it’s a hell of a lot easier than driving across town at the end of the day, climbing up into someone’s attic, and finding out that the guy you hired screwed up. Continuous improvement takes a lot of effort, but it’s much more rewarding than constantly trying to make up lost ground from poor performance.

Being a manager or leader does not remove you from the responsibility of ensuring the integrity of the product or service. On the contrary, it is the very nature of these roles to scrutinize the deliverable before it gets into the hands of the customer.

Because when it comes down to it, the roofers didn’t miss a couple spots. Their boss did.

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