You know the expression, ‘the buck stops here’? Wouldn’t it be great if every employee in every industry stopped passing the buck? Imagine, a world where engaged employees took ownership, accountability, and responsibility for the customer or patient experience instead of just clocking in and clocking out day after day?

Unfortunately, the buck stops here doesn’t happen enough. Too often, there’s a feeling of disinterest, disengagement, and that’s not my job that permeates the employee experience and subsequently poisons the customer and patient experience.

Passing The Buck Is A Symptom Of A “Gotcha Culture”

So where does this not my job thing come from? I don’t think it’s always fair to blame employees. More than likely, it’s a combination of things related to a failure of leadership.

When employees aren’t sure what to do or what to say because they’re afraid they’ll get caught, it results in a “gotcha” culture where employees fear retribution, punishment or getting written up.

In our training sessions, we often ask employees to finish this sentence: “I only see my boss/supervisors/manager when I do something _______.” Everyone laughs because everyone says “wrong” but it’s an interesting, and sad, concept when you think about it. After all, if leaders walk around all day looking for ways to bust their employees for doing the wrong thing, what incentive do employees have to do the right thing?

There’s a two-part solution to getting your employees to stop passing the buck. And it involves an intentional shift from a gotcha culture to a culture where employees feel that the organization has their back.

1. Connect People to Purpose

First, connect your employees to their purpose – not just their job tasks. Teach them all about your organization’s culture and values and then show them how they fit into the big picture. Show them what the organization’s mission, vision, and values look like in everyday situations in their work location. This way, every employee has a vision and a purpose greater than their job title or daily duties, and every employee is working toward the same end in mind.

2. Arm Employees For Success

And second, empower your employees with the tools they need to solve customer or patient problems and situations with confidence (service recovery) and a place where they can share best practices (in a playbook filled random acts of kindness that are shared with everyone so they become hardwired into the way we do things here.)

When employees are connected to something bigger than their individual job tasks and they’re armed with a set of tools to handle both the clinical and customer service side of the patient experience, productivity and employee satisfaction are likely to increase. And, the culture will begin to shift from a “gotcha culture” to one where employees feel that the organization (and one another) has their back. Which means employees will be less likely to be passing the buck and more likely to operate under the philosophy that the buck stops with me.

Delivering a good patient experience is not just one person’s job. It’s everyone’s job.

From the head surgeon to the night nurse manager. From the part-time phlebotomist to the third shift security guard. From the food services team to the radiologist.

Job tasks may differ, but everyone has a role on the care team.