As I write this I’m out of town working on a project that required me to visit the site for a couple of days. This happens from time to time, and I enjoy getting away for a short period of time because it allows me to see places that I otherwise would have had no reason to visit. That I’m doing it during a negative weather pattern is idiocy, but that’s how weather is.

Something I’ve noticed with all the people I interviewed with today is that they all have this perception that another department is responsible for something that they’re not. It would be an odd thing to me if it wasn’t something that I wasn’t expecting. The truth is that for decades most people in this industry, that being health care, have had this odd belief that this other department takes care of all the financial issues across the board.

Years ago, when I worked in a hospital, it was the same belief. I would go visit departments to talk about things, they would look at me and say “isn’t that your responsibility”, and I’d have to tell them “no”. Then I would have to tell them why. Sometimes they got it immediately, sometimes it took a little bit of work to get them to understand it. But eventually everyone comes around.

But it got me thinking just whose fault it is that all these people have this perception. Was it something they were led to believe, or did they come upon it on their own? And if they came upon it on their own, how did they arrive at that conclusion? Did they just put certain factors together and make a determination? Did they get it planted in their mind from someone else that this department took care of it all? For that matter, did upper management also believe that it was the responsibility of this department?

In the world of health care, the answer is “yes” for all of them. There’s no one way things happen across the board. Each person comes to their belief via one of the above avenues. I was talking to my wife about this, as she works in a hospital, and when I had gotten halfway she also thought that this department handled it all. When I asked her how she came to it she said she just figured if it had anything to do with money it had to be them.

Because this type of thing happens in health care, I wondered if it happens in other industries as well. I came to the realization that of course it does; it has to. Almost every employee in a large organization believes their company is doing well, unless their company happens to be publicly traded and they can follow their success or failure in the markets. Usually no one takes the time to tell employees how things are going, so employees just figure it has to be going well. That’s why they get caught off guard when announcements that there are going to be layoffs come.

The same happens for managers and directors. Overwhelming, at least initially, people think that new managers have to know more than everyone else, and that they should have all the answers and never be infallible. The same goes for consultants. There’s this level of perfection that people think each has until they’re shown to be human, and then the perception does a 180 and people either think managers or consultants are incompetent or worse. Once again, who’s at fault for allowing the perception in the first place? Or is it a fault? Was there anything that could have been done to set things right from the beginning?

I actually have a thought on this one, but I’d like to see what you have to say first so I’m not going to answer it. The question is about perception in general, not anything specific. Whose fault is perception, good or bad? And how do you believe it should be addressed early on?