Eliminate the Who

Posted in Reputation Management, Staff Members | March 1,2019

By Cyndi Miller, CEO & Tammy Adams, Editorial Director at Miller Public Relations

Eliminate the Who; Focus on the Why and How Instead

Anyone formally trained in journalism or communications surely remembers learning how to incorporate the Who-What-When-Where-Why-and-How model of writing into every piece produced.

A journalistic jewel to be sure, but we’d like to submit that there is at least one area where the Who is not as important; where you may want to eliminate it altogether.

When something goes wrong in a business setting (a ball dropped, a deadline missed, a mistake made), what’s the first question we naturally ask?

WHO did it? Who dropped the ball, who missed a deadline, who made this mistake?!?

Ultimately, we’re looking for someone to blame.

Healthy Work Cultures Eliminate Blame & Focus on Solutions

Consider this scenario…

A patient calls in and she is mad. She explains that she called just a few minutes previously to inquire as to why she was receiving a bill in the mail when she had already paid the bill in full. But while she was trying to explain the bill in question, she got hung up on. After being placed on hold for five minutes!


What’s your first response?

If your first focus is on figuring out who goofed the billing and who hung up on the poor lady, may we suggest a different approach?

Don’t worry about the Who. That can come later (if needed). In the moment of this patient’s frustration, you’re better served to focus on the Why and the How. Why did she get charged again for a bill she’d already paid? Why was she left on hold for five minutes? How did she get hung up on? And of great importance – How do you keep from this sort of thing happening again?

These are much more productive questions to ask than “Who did this?” Who did it doesn’t really matter (unless the “who” has a chronic persistent and record of making mistakes). In that case, address it, of course, but only after the patient has been completely taken care of.

In Healthy Work Cultures, Leaders Elevate

Everyone occasionally makes a mistake. Sometimes, the error is small and doesn’t affect workflow or the bottom line, but sometimes, it’s a whopper. It may cost time, considerable effort and other resources to make it right.

Great leaders know how to navigate leading a team through setbacks without blaming, shaming or demoralizing. Exceptional leaders rally and elevate their teams in the process.

“Leadership is not position or title. It is action and example.”


An Exceptional Team that Provides Exceptional Service Takes PRACTICE

Let’s consider some best practices you can use not only for your patients/customers/clients, but also for your internal team members who are the most valuable touch points for your business.

P. Present. As in, be present. And stay present. Google’s Project Oxygen pinpointed manager qualities that contribute to overall team success. They included taking time to prioritize one-on-one meetings (especially for potentially negative feedback!) and taking a genuine interest in your team members’ lives. Try not to let anything distract you, such as messaging or other outside noise, when communicating with a team member or a patient/customer.

R. Renew loyalty on a daily basis by addressing team members not just as assets but as people. Referrals are key with patients or customers, as they are with the people who support you (report to you). Take opportunities to tell someone how much you appreciate their lateral service among the contributions of the entire team.

A. Ask about the needs of your staff. Do they have everything they need to do their jobs at the highest level of technical and hands-on expertise?

C. Create a culture of compassion; it does not come at any cost to your business. It’s free! According to Fast Company, “The Surprising Lesson Between Compassion and Success”, being nice pays off. “In addition to being pleasant and easy to work with, compassion makes you trustworthy. Trust is a crucial aspect of our lives because it makes us feel safe,” the article suggests.

T. Take every opportunity to practice your communication skills so when a particular moment presents itself, you have the poise and clarity to affect and connect with people.

I. Instill repetition. Put into practice what you learn over and over (and over) until it becomes a habit. Say what you do and do what you say. Nicely.

C. Correct problems immediately. If an issue arises with a patient or customer whether it’s an office or appointment snag or a billing concern, be responsive in all that you do. Just respond to the right thing. Remember: don’t blame. Problem solve.

E. Elevate your team to greatness. This internal motivation goes a long way with fostering lasting relationships with employees who will stay on your team and patients or customers who will refer their family and friends and be ever-ready to become a testimony to your great care and service.

Creating and maintaining a healthy culture isn’t hard. But it does require attention, accountability and PRACTICE. Remember, magnify the Why and the How and minimize the Who. Then watch your team rise.

A great customer experience starts with creating the most welcoming culture possible. Nurture it, and you will grow a base of loyal ambassadors to promote your business. Our customized, hands-on training show you how to create and nurture the best possible culture, customer experience and five-star customer service.

Let’s chat. Give us a call at 817.281.3440 or fill out the form below to learn more.