Would you agree that one of the most frustrating things about being in a management position is dealing with mistakes employees make? Sometimes, these mistakes are easy to overlook. Other times they aren’t when they are the result of carelessness or negligence. Regardless, it is critical to have a plan in place that ensures you respond the right way to these mishaps.
Reframe How You Perceive Employee Mistakes
It’s important to have a plan in place for properly responding to employee mistakes. Without one, it’s easy to fly off the handle and damage relationships. Responding the wrong way to employee mistakes can even ruin your reputation with your workforce. To prevent this, reframe how you perceive mishaps by viewing every mistake as an opportunity to grow your leaderships skills and educate your employees.
How to Deal with Employee Mistakes the Right Way
When an employee messes up, there is the temptation to “go off” on him or her. All this does is embarrass employees and make them terrified to make mistakes in the future. Obviously, this is the wrong approach. The right approach involves taking the following steps:
1. Thank the employee — Although you might feel angry upon learning an employee has goofed up, be sure to thank him or her for coming to you to admit the mistake. How to Respond to an Employee’s Mistake stated,
“If the employee discovers their own mistake and comes to you, thank them for being accountable and bringing it to your attention. Let them know that mistakes happen, and it’s important to you that they acknowledge them and fix them as soon as possible.”
This can feel counterintuitive but is a powerful first step in the process of properly handling employee mishaps.
2. Start asking questions — After you’ve thanked the worker, start asking questions to determine how the mistake happened. You may be surprised to find that the employee is actually not to blame, or that there were others involved. Keep asking questions until you fully understand why the mistake was made.
3. Help the employee think of a solution — Once you’ve thanked the employee for admitting the mistake and asked questions about how it happened, help your subordinate think of a solution. Six Sigma Online wrote,
“Instead of leaving (figuring out the solution) all up to them, help an employee to think of ways that will help them improve their strategies. Tell them that you are giving them a chance because you believe in their potential. However, do not forget to reiterate that consequences are present for repeated mistakes.”
Dealing with employee mistakes is not fun. No one likes to do it, but it must be done, and it must be done correctly. Getting angry or being passive-aggressive is ineffective. What is effective is being respectful, asking questions, and helping the employee find a solution.
How do you usually handle employee mishaps?
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