I went to lunch alone for the first time in a while the other day. It is something that I enjoy doing from time to time because it gives me the opportunity to think through some things, make to-do lists and relax my mind.
It also gives me the opportunity to indulge in people-watching and eaves-dropping!
Which is exactly what I was doing when I overheard this …
“Three times!! Three times this week I found errors in his work. I mean, I know my job is to double-check his stuff — but how is it OK for him to just keep making mistakes like that.”
“Ridiculous. He calls himself a supervisor??”
“Exactly! And he doesn’t even apologize anymore. I give him back the forms with the errors flagged and all he says is ‘Thank you for catching that.’ Thank you?? Who says that??”
Admittedly, I don’t know anything about this woman, her co-worker or the company they work for. I kinda wanted to interject into the conversation to learn more, but I didn’t …
Thankfully, I have a blog where I can share these kinds of thoughts so I don’t have to go jumping in to all the random conversations I accidentally overhear while people-watching and eaves-dropping.
Work should always be structured with checks and balances in place to minimize the likelihood of errors. The one who collects money shouldn’t be the same one who counts it. The one who approves the invoices shouldn’t be the same one that pays it. The one who enters data shouldn’t be the same one who verifies all the information is correct. Even if you are an organization of 1 person, someone should always double-check your work — an auditor, an attorney, an advisor. Someone.
Checks and balances help maintain honesty and integrityin the process. It increases the chances errors and negative trends will be identified, corrected and reversed before things get out of control. Checks and balances are good and necessary.
People make mistakes and systems glitch. It happens. Sometimes more than once in a day, week and month. It doesn’t necessarily mean the person or system is careless or incompetent. It means the person or the system is fallible. And that should never come as a shock. We’re all fallible. Even with the best of intentions and focus, we make errors.
If the person designated to catch the error has the audacity to actually catch the error, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. And neither the one who made the error or the one who caught the error should hold a grudge about that. Each should thank the other for being there to catch the error and bring balance back to the process.
Now I don’t know if this co-worker was making an error 3 of 3 times or 3 of 3000 times. Certainly, if it is 3 of 3, this woman should be talking to someone other than her friend about this issue. We can’t allow other people’s errors to become a hindrance to our own work. We can’t allow people to use the check/balances as a crutch. It’s not ok to be inaccurate in your work just because you know someone else is there to catch you when you fall. That is an unacceptable failure of duty and someone should be notified.
However, if it is 3 of 30 … or 3 of 300 … or 3 of 3000 … I say “get over it” and move on to finding the next error wherever it may be.
Check? Please. And thank you!