When a Mistake Occurs at Your Business, “It’s Never the Employee”

It’s Never the Employee.

In other words, it is NEVER the employee’s fault.

Are you thinking to yourself, What on earth are you talking about that “it’s NEVER THE EMPLOYEE?”

How can it NEVER be the employee when a mistake occurs within a business?

Doesn’t make sense, right?

Business isn’t a tournament where everyone wins a trophy.

There needs to be accountability.

If it is never the employee, then who’s fault is it when a mistake occurs?

Well, one of the greatest challenges with business ownership is of course managing employees.

As an entrepreneur, creating a team or staff that shares your drive, vision and dedication is a monumental task.

Especially since the staff typically does not have skin in the game as does the business owner, YOU.

A New York Times article from 2011 titled “It’s Never the Employee” completely changed my perspective on this subject.

The author of the article, Jay Goltz, explains that one of three deficiencies causes mistakes to occur at a business:

  1. You have a flawed system
  2. Poor training
  3. You hired the wrong person (or placed them in the wrong position)

Let’s explore………..

Edwards Deming on “It’s Never the Employee”


First, before we go into further detail explaining this theory from Jay Goltz, let’s turn to legendary management guru,  Dr. Edwards Deming for his opinion:

“Eighty-five percent of the reasons for failure are deficiencies in the systems and process rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better.”

~ W. Edwards Deming  – 20th Century Global Expert on Continual Improvement

Over the years, I have found that it is extremely challenging for both sides, the business owner and employee, to see each others perspective.

If an entrepreneur has owned their business for many years, it is difficult for them to relate to the challenges that an employee faces.

On the other side, most employees have never owned a business and are truly unaware of the gargantuan effort it takes to build a profitable and successful business.

Yet, how do you create a vibrant atmosphere and dynamic team so that company goals are met?

Well, let’s dig deeper.

Entrepreneurship & Building the Team 


Never the Employee, When a Mistake Occurs at Your Business, “It’s Never the Employee”

Encouraging employees to follow directions and execute strategies takes stamina.

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs have amazing talents, skills and strengths, yet, if leadership or managing people is not one of them, what do you do?

Especially if you find yourself failing to motivate.

What do you do when employees just don’t seem to “get it”?

You keep thinking, “what is wrong with everyone and why doesn’t anyone want to work?”

This path is a downward spiral.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

It is difficult to admit when something isn’t working. However, the blame belongs on us, the business owner.

As entrepreneurs and business owners, looking in the mirror to identify flaws is tough. 

So what do you have to lose to consider viewing your staff in a different light?

What if you reduce stress and sleepless nights over the actions or inaction of your employees? 

You potentially have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Let’s take some advice from a hugely successful entrepreneur who sheds some light on this important subject.

Jay Goltz: “It’s Never the Employee”


The New York Times used to have a small business blog series call “You’re the Boss: The Art of Running a Small Business” which I used to read religiously.

Numerous small business owners and entrepreneurs would contribute to the blog sharing the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship.

One particular blogger who I thoroughly enjoyed reading was a gentleman named Jay Goltz: https://www.jaygoltz.com/about/

Mr. Goltz had started a framing business in Chicago shortly out of college and built it into an incredibly successful business.

He also authored “The Street-Smart Entrepreneur: 133 Tough Lessons I Learned the Hard Way”.

In his blog, Jay shared sharp insights from his decades-long experience in a humble manner describing successes as well as missteps throughout his career.

One particular blog post that completely changed my view towards employees was called, “It’s Never the Employee”: Click here to read.

Ironically, I had the privilege of meeting Jay Goltz at an internet marketing conference shortly after he wrote this article in 2011. He is a passionate and brilliant entrepreneur.

In the article, Goltz asks a fascinating question, “Do you see yourself wired as more of an entrepreneur or more of a manager?”

He goes on to explain that many frustrations of an entrepreneur is purely based on how the company was built and structured.

Taking Responsibility (Because “It’s Never the Employee”)


As you grow your business, responsibilities increase and you HAVE to delegate certain tasks to potential new hires.

The saying “if you want to do a job right, do it yourself” will never allow you to grow your business.

Unfortunately, growing pains tend to expose flaws.

For example, let’s say an employee makes a mistake at your business. A new employee.

They have been on the job for a few weeks and should be “getting it” by now.

When the mistake occurs, either small or significant, what is the first thing that you do?

Do you blame the employee? 

Do you sit them down and have “the talk”?

Scold and reprimand them? 

Jay Goltz explains that when a mistake occurs, it is typically one of three reasons that caused it, and all three fall on the owner.

Below explains his theory on why a mistake occurs…..

1) A Flawed System


Mr. Goltz explains, first look at your system.

As a business owner, it should be a daily obligation to put your employees in position to not only succeed but to also  flourish and thrive.

Especially since their success is your success.

Did your system create or cause the mistake?

Was information flow inaccurate or untimely?

Take a close look at the mistake to ensure that systems and processes exist to prevent or eliminate these errors from happening in the future.

Lastly, does a check and balance system exist?

2) Poor Training

Never the Employee, When a Mistake Occurs at Your Business, “It’s Never the Employee”

Ok. So you are absolutely positive that the system is rock solid. 

You determine that the mistake was not caused by a flaw in your system.

Then let’s take a look at the training. Was the employee properly trained?

Do you have thorough training in place so that the employee possesses complete knowledge to understand the process and procedure?

Was there a training period with supervision allowing the employee enough time and experience to execute the task successfully?

If the answer is a resounding YES!

The system is rock solid. Full proof! Purely mistake-free. 

IN ADDITION, the training is more than sufficient.

As a matter of fact, you will even go on the record that it borderlines on perfection.

Any person with a pulse could do this task….then the mistake is STILL 100% your fault based on Jay Goltz’s theory.

Here is why…..

3) You Hired the Wrong Person


The worst possible scenario then falls on you with the fact that you hired wrong person for the job.

The employee certainly seemed competent but unfortunately lacks the skill set to complete the task mistake-free.

Meaning you placed an employee in a job where they are simply incapable of succeeding.

Otherwise, they are a good employee but you placed the person in the wrong position.

I like to refer to this as “putting your first baseman/woman at shortstop”.

To begin with, they play first base for a reason.

Typically they play first base due to a poor throwing arm.

Someone with an amazing throwing arm would most likely not play first base.

Yet, you put the first baseman/woman at shortstop anyway. Hoping that they succeed.

Unfortunately, the player receives the blame when they are unable to throw the ball accurately to first base.

When in fact, they should have never been positioned at short stop to begin with.

Thus the team suffers and the shortstop (who typically thrives at first)  feels frustrated when they are simply out of position.

It Costs Nothing To……

Never the Employee, When a Mistake Occurs at Your Business, “It’s Never the Employee”

In conclusion, when a mistake occurs, analyze these three helpful steps to help prevent or eliminate this from happening in the future.

No one wins playing the blame game.

Encourage open lines of communication to analyze and dissect systematic flaws.

Focus on training and placing the best people for the right position.

Meanwhile, below includes a few tips to help foster a healthy work environment. 

Keep in mind that it costs nothing to……

  1. Say “thank you” to an employee for a good day’s work (Thank you Dad for teaching me that one) 
  2. Congratulate and celebrate the wins
  3. Be consumed in gratitude
  4. Listen
  5. Be relentlessly positive & supportive with your team
  6. Create a culture dedicated to healthy communication
  7. Keep hungry
  8. Be eager to learn
  9. Study new techniques on leadership and team building
  10. Put people in positions that exploit their strengths instead of exposing their weaknesses
  11. Stay curious

Implementing these tactics cost nothing. Yet, offers the wonderful opportunity to create a dynamic team driven towards success. 

Finally, check out these additional posts with helpful tips from two amazing experts on leadership:

Wrapping It Up

Lastly, Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

In addition,  please click these helpful links for more info:

Finally, to learn about Wire Harness Assemblies, please click below:


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