How you handle employees’ mistakes has a big effect on trust, morale and productivity.
And handling them poorly can destroy staffers’ confidence – making them less likely to report mistakes they discover in the future!
Keep these two steps in mind when folks screw up:
1. Let the employee accept responsibility
Some mistakes are a group effort or the result of an outside party.
But it it’s the employee’s fault, let him or her take the blame.
Owning up to an error will help improve the person’s performance and decision-making down the road.
No need for multiple apologies! Just assign the staffer to work on fixing the problem (if possible) so that he’ll understand what went wrong.
2. Evaluate how it happened
After the mistake is fixed, figure out why the mistake occurred.
Ask yourself if the error was partly the result of:
- lack of quality control
- minimal training
- ineffective communication, or
- company policies.
If one or more were factors, address them to prevent future occurrence. Also let the staffer know if one of these external factors contributed to the goof.
If none of these factors apply, then sit down with the employee and ask him why he thinks it happened.
Explain off the bat you’re not interested in assigning blame or punishing him. You just want to understand what happened.