How can you stop your staff from making careless errors?
How do I stop my staff from making careless errors that later turn into serious problems such as incorrectly invoicing clients, etc.?
I think the best way to solve this problem is have the basic process as mentioned previously, but also to clarify your expectations with your staff.
If there is a mistake made (and we are only human), then sit down and speak with the staff member about what may have been the root cause of the issue. You will find that if you sit down and speak with your staff working out solutions to the errors your are training on what your expectations are for the role. You will also need to make yourself or the supervisor accessible and approachable so if there are questions they feel comfortable seeking guidance.
Staff making errors is a very common issue in business, it's usually tackled by writing quite detailed processes and ensuring everyone has great training around those processes. Then as they are implemented you stay on message by rewarding (a simple thank you will do) those who do it to the letter, and re-training people when they don't follow them.
It's easy to blame people, however even the best people can find another job and move on, and there you are stuck with people not getting right again!
So good processes are always the answer.
You can also co-create processes with staff if you need a have a strongly humanistic culture that doesn't take well to fixed rules, if staff create processes they are more likely to see the need for them, so they will take on the enforcing role (encourage good team manners as they do this though).
You can also sit processes alongside IT systems that can then check for entry errors. A really simple, easy to use system for this is excel which can make sure only numbers are entered in certain columns, or only text in other columns. However you can also make data entry forms too (Microsoft Access database does this, although it can be more difficult to learn how to use that program).
So many things you can do with this! We could have loads of fun sorting this out! Yes it is the sort of thing we love to play with. Sad and pathetic? ;)
I tend to agree with Dr Louise, and in addition to setting up great processes and rewarding your staff for doing their job well, here are a few more ideas to help cultivate a happy, productive workplace.
Are your employees over worked or over burdened? The stress of unreasonably high work load can lead to mistakes as people rush to get everything done.
Are you employees under worked? When we don't have enough to do, boredom can set in, which can also lead to mistakes being made. Another thing that happens when there isn't enough work is that we leave things to the last minute thinking "there's plenty of time" then rush at the end to meet a deadline.
Is there enough of the right sort of supervision? Some of the mistakes I made early in my career would have been picked up and fixed before causing too much damage if I had been more closely and cooperatively supervised. What check and balances do you have in place so that errors are picked up and corrected before they go out the door? Have you asked your staff what type of supervision suits them best?
Celebrate your success and let your staff know they are in integral part of that success. As Louise said in her answer, a simple thank you, or an early mark for a job well done can have long lasting positive effects on morale.
For me, the key in all of this is to talk to your staff. Find out what works for them, how you can improve systems and processes to help them do thier jobs well, be willing to try new apporahces, adn let them know you welcome their feedback and suggestions.
Good luck, and do let us know how you get on!
These are all really great answers! I'd just like to add a few things.
Firstly, "careless" is a loaded term. We're humans. And humans make mistakes. A person might put the same amount of "care" into 2 different processes, but only end up with an error in 1. The point is, carelessness isn't the root of the problem. And it's not productive to focus on if you want to stamp out errors in the workplace. Instead it's more productive to look at the following:
Staff overutilization, stress, and overworking
Reduce errors by reducing the stress on your employees. Although this may seem obvious, it's often overlooked. Especially in cultures which see workplace stress as productive, necessary, and positive. Quite the opposite is true. Stress actually kills.
There is a link between stress and heart disease, our immune system and even death (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/). It has been found to affect our memories (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuroscience-in-everyday-life/201901/can-stress-kill-you-what-doesnt-kill-you-kills-you-slowly). And it can also be the cause of mistakes. In one study, 66% of surgeons made mistakes when dealing with bursts of short-term stress in the operating room (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181219191052.htm).
In the workplace setting, if you are putting your employees at risk of stress, you're also putting them at risk of making more mistakes. Of course, depending on the profession, sometimes this is unavoidable. But there are things managers and leaders can monitor. Making sure that your staff isn't booked on too many projects. Or that they aren't overutilized and having to work overtime to get their tasks done.
Engaging in resource management best practices can help. Something that even solo entrepreneurs should be aware of https://www.savvysme.com.au/article/595-i-am-a-solo-entrepreneur--why-should-i-care-about-human-resource-management). Similarly, most PM software contains features to help ensure that this doesn't happen. You can also try and diminish some common causes of stress (http://bit.ly/whyemployeesstressed).
It was mentioned above that Excel can make it easier to find errors in data entries. While this is one example where Excel can reduce mistakes, it's not necessarily always the case. In fact, there are plenty of studies which show the opposite:
Spreadsheet errors are pandemic. Where close to 90% of spreadsheets contain errors. So if you're looking to eliminate mistakes, it may be wise to eliminate the tool that's spreading and facilitating workplace errors.
Finally, some mistakes aren't errors so much as they are miscommunications. And doubts around chain of command, protocols, and checks and balances. Making such processes and workflows more transparent can get the right set of eyes on the right documents. Eliminating such mistakes.
Automation is generally the solution, also reviewing your workflow. Automating invoices is common practice in most companies. If you still want manual invoicing you just need to change the workflow so checks are in place.
Staff will always make errors. This could be careless as you say, in that case training or reviewing their position in the business is required. Over worked is also a common cause. Either way, you need to review all the errors that are being made. Review the workflow you have in place and safety checks. Once you have an understanding of the issue, start looking for the appropriate solutions.
As companies grow, work load increases. It is common for staff who have been employed to do one thing are now taking on extra responsibilities without the correct training. Take this opportunity to review your entire companies process, your growth and look at your current systems and processes. It could be a very good turning point for your business.
Hey Andrea! :D
Agree with all 3 responses. 100% behind Louise's point on processes. With any business, we should focus on creating processes and systems because fact of the matter is that until such time that we have those in place, us as business owners are crossing our fingers and hoping that good people stay. So even if we improve the people and get them working well, once they leave, we're left in the same position. With processes, we can relieve that stress and anxiety. It might take a little longer to get them in place but is much easier to 'scale', whether you're replacing existing staff or growing the team.
By the same token, don't take the human element out of it as per what Melissa discussed. To have the right processes in place, we need to know why things aren't working. Sometimes as managers, our expectations aren't aligned with reality of being in the role of a staff member. So is worth having a frank chat with your staff and really understanding what the issues are. Are they simply careless or is there something else we haven't considered because we're removed from the situation?