Now *this* is an individual problem

I’ve pointed out in a few posts that the environment (system, processes, structures, culture) and management are a huge factor in performance in organizaitons. And they are. But sometimes, it is an individual problem.

Like this woman who works in a health care providers office processing insurance claims.

They have a visibility system in the office; the inbox and the out box. When the inbox is full, there’s lots of claims to process. When it’s empty, it either means there haven’t been any patients or the claims processer is keeping up. As long as there are patients coming in, and claims are being processes, money should flow into the business.

Last month the office manager was in a panic. The inbox was empty, but the bank balance was dwindling instead of increasing. Of course an empty inbox could mean that there were no patients, but the office manager had seen a steady stream of people coming into the office for care.

The office manager suspected embezzlement or fraud and called the bank.

The bank told her there was nothing suspicious about the money going out, but that no money had been coming in.

It turned out that the claims processor wasn’t doing her job, and didn’t want any one to find out, so she stuffed the claims in her purse. It looked like she was keeping up. So much for the visibility system.

Clearly this is an individual problem.

But its also a management problem.

Maybe they need just a tad more in the way of accounting reports. Ya think? Not to check up on employees, to know the state of the business. I mean, you’d think a manager in a small office might notice that no money was coming in for several weeks.

When I heard this story, I asked if they’d fired the claims processor. They hadn’t….because no one else knew the claims processor’s job (another management problem).

I can’t make this stuff up.

And one of the biggest mistakes people make is attributing individual problems to the system and system problems to individuals.