My first communication with any new (non-family/friend) caregiver for my child, always involves this point. If my daughter is hurt in anyway, whatever the reason, while in your care, please let me know. Once I address the issue, I’ll probably reprimand you for not giving her your full attention and that’ll be the end of it. However, if you don’t let me know and I find out otherwise, you’ll have to face serious repercussions. This is simply because, in the first instance I can seek the right solution and resolve the problem. While, in the second situation, I may be acting too late to help my child, just because you didn’t bother or were too scared to tell me the truth.
This rule applies almost directly to a business, especially when an individual is assigned responsibility of a project, a team or a business segment. Apart from reporting on performance and other parameters on a regular bases, issue reporting should be given priority. An issue could be any event or incident that is expected to have a negative effect on the business directly or a business relationship. The effect could be with respect to an employee, customer, partner or any other important party.
Issue reporting takes on an even greater significance in healthcare and other retail business, where employees have one-to-one interactions with customers. Obviously, in a healthcare-based business, like ours, issue reporting can be crucial. Team members need to be able to distinguish between: critical (a life is in the balance), urgent (a technical issue) and important (a non-technical issue) situations for reporting and responding.
Once an issue has been recognized and reported the next step would be responding to the issue. How we respond to the issue is as important as recognizing the issue. We generally ask employees to identify the parties who need to be addressed and approach them with the following information:
- Our response/action to set the immediate situation right
- Future steps to avoid occurrence of the same issue (e.g. a peer review or self-audit process)
Clarifying the above points to the aggrieved party will let them know that you are serious about addressing the problem and are not just placating them. This understanding is important if you want to build long-term relationships with your team/partner and instill confidence to convert a customer into a repeat customer.
Obviously all of the above has to be documented and filed away for future reference. It can even be used, in a generalized fashion, during a training session on handling issues.
What do you think about our issue reporting and response process? How do you handle such situations?
Summary – Issue Reporting:
- Recognize the issue
- Report the issue
- Respond to the affected party/ies
- Document the whole incident
Note: Steps two and three are interchangeable with respect to order.