When Good Intentions Go Bad

Human error is an inevitable part of doing business. Even the most thorough and conscientious employee will suffer from distraction or a momentary lapse in judgment. Such errors, intentional or not, cost valuable time and resources to correct, may alienate customers, and may hurt the trust teammates have in each other.

A policy of dealing proactively with mistakes must permeate your organization. The ideal scenario is that a mistake be reported to a person who has the power to correct the issue before too much damage is done. This proactive attitude may include some of the following practices:

Screen employees for integrity and ability. Use standardized tests and interviews by qualified members of your organization. Favorable results are no guarantee of success, but even one negative result should call for further investigation. Your insurance company may offer free or discounted resources to aid you in the screening process.
Describe the job. In writing, describe the responsibilities of the position, to whom this person reports and the degree of employee autonomy.

Train for the skills. No matter how proficient, an employee’s skills can always be sharpened with additional training. Give the most attention to the parts of the job that are not areas of strength. Most importantly, train employees to identify WHEN a problem needs to be reported to a supervisor.

Monitor employee performance. Monitor each employee first-hand, by receiving reports from them, and second-hand, by independently verifying the reports.

Environment. Create a culture where employees may focus on their individual responsibilities. Lack of organization, in any form, may lead to important items being unintentionally overlooked.

Contemplate potential errors. Have key individuals strategize about what might happen and how to respond. Understand how your insurance works. I frequently see insurance claims denied because an organization did not notify the insurance company in a timely manner. Have a good relationship with an insurance agent who provides sound counsel on these matters.

Understand what mistakes your insurance covers. Your insurance policies may, or may not, protect the organization in the way you think. Take your list of potential errors to your agent, review your current insurance coverages and discuss what else you might need to properly protect your organization.

Encourage collection of important documentation. Employees need to be sensitive to situations where information is needed in writing.

Encourage teamwork. A second set of eyes serves as accountability, prevention, and a witness for what actually occurred. Unfair allegations about employee conduct are common, and two employees working on a project may protect your organization.

Unsure of where to start? James may be reached at 518-393-2109 x219 or james@MerriamInsurance.com.

James is a licensed New York State Property and Casualty broker currently working as a Commercial Account Manager with the Rescue Mission Program. He is a native of Schenectady who enjoys traveling abroad. James has a BA in Economics and Classics from Washington and Lee University.

James Dick, CPCU, AAI